NHS dis-inform

Mar 13, 2013

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I followed  up what I wrote about yesterday by looking at other (Scottish) NHS sources of information and advice. I had seen NHS Inform previously (branded as ‘Health Information you can trust’), and wrote to them pointing out that the skin section of their site contained lots of inaccuracies. I have just looked again, and to put it mildly much of the section on skin cancer is misleading and some of it factually incorrect (note to students: do not you use this site as a source of factual advice). Wikipedia is much better or of course skincancer909. What comes across most strongly is that the content seems to have been written by somebody with no first hand experience of clinical practice, and with a political agenda. I can only grimace that  the Scottish government thinks that patients with skin cancer are likely to meet their pathologist, and that SCC are derived from the outer (?dead cells) layer of skin.

There is a bigger issue here, one that impinges on my research. There is a widespread belief that putting ‘information’ out there, can only be good. Well, like drugs, the way you present partial views of reality, can have both good and bad effects. This is not a one-way bet.

Patients would be better looking at the CRUK pages for a start.

Post by Jonathan Rees

Clinical academic and skin watcher at the University of Edinburgh

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