A Comparison of World Wide Web Resources for Identifying Medical Information

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale and Objectives: To compare the utility of a search engine, Google, with other medical and non-medical, web-based resources for identifying specific medical information. Materials and Methods: This institutional review board-approved case cross-over study randomly assigned 89 medical student volunteers to use either Google or any other web-based resource (excluding Google) to research 10 advanced medical questions in a multiple choice exam. Primary outcome measures were resource efficiency (inversely related to number of links used to identify the correct answer for each question) and correctness (number of correct answers/total number of questions answered). For Google searches, the sites providing the information in question were also evaluated. Results: The most frequently selected non-Google resources were Yahoo (n = 531), Ask.com (n = 110), and the interactive encyclopedia Wikipedia.com (n = 74). Google was more efficient than all other resources (1.50 vs. 1.94 mean links, P < .0001), with no significant difference in correctness (97% [756/780] vs. 96% [747/780], P = .16). After a Google search, the four most common categories of sites that provided the correct answer were dictionary/encyclopedia sites, medical websites, National Library of Medicine resources, or journal websites. Yahoo was less efficient than Google (1.90 vs. 1.54 mean links, P < .0001). However, non-Google search engines were more efficient than web sites (eg, Wikipedia, medical websites) and PubMed (1.87 vs. 2.54 mean links, P = .0004). Conclusion: Google is an efficient web resource for identifying specific medical information, by guiding users to an array of medical resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1172
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic radiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • World Wide Web
  • information seeking
  • medical information
  • search engine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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