Gastroenterology

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Pharmacists need to weigh in: Consumer websites present unbalanced picture of probiotic benefits, risks

KEY POINT

An analysis of consumer websites that contained information on probiotics found that descriptions of product benefits far outnumber reports of risks on all websites, with commercial sites presenting significantly fewer risks than their noncommercial counterparts. Patients who rely on the Internet for health information may have unrealistic expectations about probiotics and/or other complementary and alternative therapies that can be purchased without a prescription.

SOURCES

Brinich MA et al. An analysis of online messages about probiotics. BMC Gastroenterology. 2013;13:5–8.

Breckons et al. What do evaluation instruments tell us about the quality of complementary medicine information on the Internet? J Med Internet Res. 2008;10:e3.