A US study has been published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research that explores the strengths and challenges of various types of health information available online.
Researchers collected questions posted to and the responses they received from an online diabetes community and classified them according to Rothwell’s classification of question types (fact, policy, or value questions).
They selected 60 questions (20 each of fact, policy, and value) and the replies the questions received from the community. They then searched for responses to the same questions using a search engine.
Analysis found that community responses answered more questions than did search results overall. Search results were most effective in answering value questions and least effective in answering policy questions. Community responses answered questions across question types at an equivalent rate, but most answered policy questions and the least answered fact questions. Value questions were most answered by community responses, but some of these answers provided by the community were incorrect.
You can read the full study here.