Some 26 per cent of web searches performed by the 20 million Italians online are about health and well-being, says a new survey from Italian biomedical research group Censis-Forum. The findings were based on a study of 190 health websites, divided into four categories (generalist, institutional, pharmaceuticals, and patient associations) so as to single out the services on offer. There is a clear trend that shows Italians are looking after their own heath, says Giuseppe De Rita, head of the statistical research institute, Censis. However, the results also raise concerns about the reliability of information provided. In light of this, De Rita warns that this trend must be controlled because reliable medical information requires frequent revision. Of the sites examined, 76 per cent offered updated health information, 72 per cent made reference to authoritative sources, and 61 per cent offered more details and support. De Rita also warns that some sites contain very generic information. Even worse, sites with commercial backing which make up 18 per cent of those surveyed sometimes aim to sell drugs by exaggerating the properties therein.
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