english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > Archives : 2009 > Combating medical disinformation: the Reunion Island experiment

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Combating medical disinformation:
the Reunion Island experiment

Healthcare professionals in the French overseas territory of Reunion Island have joined forces to provide the general public with reliable, independent medical information.

A great deal of medical information distributed to the general public, especially that emanating from pharmaceutical companies, is biased due to conflicts of interest. The damaging effects, both for patients and for healthcare professionals, are well known: inappropriate treatment, sometimes severe adverse effects or ineffectiveness as a result of supposedly "innovative" treatments whose effectiveness has not been proven, and the exposure of patients to potential risks that have not been clearly identified, loss of trust between patient and healthcare professional, etc.

General practitioners on Reunion Island teamed up to publish independent medical information in the consumer press, to combat disinformation. This campaign, entitled "Dis-Disinformation" (DDI) is entirely financed by contributions from these doctors, under the aegis of the regional union of community doctors of Reunion Island (URML). Their aim is to provide the general public with reliable medical information, for quality care, exclusively in the best interests of patients (for example on screening for prostate cancer).

This initiative can only be continued and expanded with the support and commitment of healthcare professionals, who see their job made easier by better informed citizen/patients.

An initiative to be encouraged and an example to follow.

©Prescrire March 2009

Source: "Contre la désinformation médicale: la Dé-DésInformation" Rev Prescrire 2009; 29 (304): 152-153.

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