New ‘Study’ Says HPV Anti-Vaccination Sites ‘lower quality and had less complete information’

A new study being passed around the web today condemns any HPV Vaccination information website that isn’t either ‘neutral’ or ‘supportive’ as being a ‘lower quality’ and ‘less complete’ information source. The assertion here is that these “low quality” websites are high ranking websites in the search engines and function to dissuade parents from getting the shots for their teens. According to

The Internet, where the vast majority of Americans go for answers to a wide variety of medical questions, may be particularly misleading when it comes to facts about HPV, researchers report in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

When they searched for facts about this vaccine online, they found the top five to 10 results contained critical information only about a third of the time.

“In general, web pages that were against rather than neutral or supportive of HPV vaccination were of lower quality and had less complete information,” said lead study author Dr. Linda Fu, a pediatrician at Children’s National Health System and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“When web pages with inaccurate or incomplete medical information are ranked highly by search engines, there’s a greater chance that more people are going to view them, which means they will stay highly ranked and continue to perpetuate misinformation,” Fu added by email.

The worst part of this story is the study itself. The study seems arbitrary at best, not citing specific instances of what “accurate information” is, nor disclosing long-tail keyword information they used to search. This leaves out any semblance of critical response. You can’t debate what you can’t see yourself. Without them citing the actual websites or giving us the actual keywords used in the study, how could we even interpret the information? See for yourself.

Twenty searches yielded 116 unique Web pages. HPV vaccine–critical Web pages comprised roughly a third of the top, top 5– and top 10–ranking Web pages. The prevalence of HPV vaccine–critical Web pages was higher for queries that included term modifiers in addition to root terms. Compared with noncritical Web pages, Web pages critical of HPV vaccine overall had a lower quality score than those with a noncritical bias (p < .01) and covered fewer important HPV-related topics (p < .001). Critical Web pages required viewers to have higher reading skills, were less likely to include an author byline, and were more likely to include testimonial accounts. They also were more likely to raise unsubstantiated concerns about vaccination. (source)

This is overtly obtuse for the purpose of dismissing any information critical of the HPV Vaccine. It’s a way to cull out messaging which runs counter to the CDC. Here is a list of the very top results used when searching the keyword, “HPV Vaccine” on Google.

hpv vaccine Google Search

The very first listing is the HPV vaccine maker, Gardasil’s, website. Clearly they are pitching the product. The following two websites are the CDC, Government agency sites, which clearly push the vaccine. Webmd and Wikipedia follow those, both of which generally consider the vaccine to be a beneficial vaccine, though both will post potential side effects or links to content critical of the vaccine (this is brief). This “study” is just a way for Government agencies to eliminate even more diversity in terms of facts presented. And it is greedy, considering most people click on the top results, which as I’ve demonstrated, they clearly own.

Photo by peretzpup


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