Accuracy and self correction of information received from an internet breast cancer list: content analysis

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Abstract

Objectives

To determine the prevalence of false or misleading statements in messages posted by internet cancer support groups and whether these statements were identified as false or misleading and corrected by other participants in subsequent postings.

Design

Analysis of content of postings.

Setting

Internet cancer support group Breast Cancer Mailing List.

Main outcome measures

Number of false or misleading statements posted from 1 January to 23 April 2005 and whether these were identified and corrected by participants in subsequent postings.

Results

10 of 4600 postings (0.22%) were found to be false or misleading. Of these, seven were identified as false or misleading by other participants and corrected within an average of four hours and 33 minutes (maximum, nine hours and nine minutes).

Conclusions

Most posted information on breast cancer was accurate. Most false or misleading statements were rapidly corrected by participants in subsequent postings.

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