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New Consumer Reports Medical Website Gives Consumers Evidence and Treatment Ratings to Make Informed Decisions


YONKERS, N.Y., May 18 -- Responding to the millions of Americans who are managing their families’ healthcare in an increasingly complex and confusing marketplace, Consumer Reports today launched, a new subscription- based online tool providing “independent, trustworthy information on best treatments and prescription drugs.” Created in partnership with the British Medical Journal Publishing Group (BMJPG), the Consumer Reports Medical Guide contains easy, immediate and in-depth access to top-rated treatments, helping people feel more secure when identifying options and making decisions with their doctors. A wide array of valuable consumer information is also available to non-subscribers.

Consumer Reports Medical Guide provides information on, initially, 60 common and chronic conditions -- from ADHD and AIDS to prostrate cancer and varicose veins -- with sections explaining how each condition is diagnosed, what symptoms manifest, rate of occurrence, what to expect, what treatments are available, and specific questions to ask your doctor. Information in the Medical Guide will continue to grow. And, modeled partly after Consumer Reports’ highly regarded product comparisons, the Consumer Reports Medical Guide features Treatment Ratings charts to help consumers make choices based on available “best treatment” options -- including the choice, sometimes the best, of no treatment or “watchful waiting.” Categories include, but are not limited to, Treatments That Work, Treatments That Need Further Study, Treatments That Are Unlikely to Work and Treatments That Are Likely to Be Ineffective or Harmful.

Dr. Beth Nash, Medical Advisor to the Consumer Reports Medical Guide and Clinical Editor, BMJ Publishing Group, said, “Patients want to collect as much accurate information as they can about their conditions. They see the importance of evidence and are demanding it, but all research and medical information is not created equal. With the Consumer Reports Medical Guide, consumers have access to a single, complete and understandable source that is unbiased and based on extensive expert review of available research.”

The valuable and concise content comes from BMJPG’s world- renowned resource, “Clinical Evidence,” which draws on evidence- based medicine (EBM) -- the practice of combining the best available evidence from research studies -- to present unbiased, easy-to-read information. The selection of the initial conditions is the result of BMJPG’s evaluation of the most common -- ranging from varicose veins and impacted wisdom teeth to heart failure and lung cancer -- as well as those ailments and diseases that have available treatments. Conditions can be looked up alphabetically, as well as in specific treatment centers (e.g., women’s health, digestive system), and the Consumer Reports Medical Guide also includes a complete reference guide to 900 drugs from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

“Consumer Reports and the BMJ Publishing Group are empowering patients with comprehensive information, based on the same research that doctors read,” explained Joel Gurin, Consumer Reports Executive Vice President. “The web has become a great fountain of health information for consumers and their families, but the public has valid concerns about credibility and sources,” Gurin added. “People are looking for well-organized, easy-to- navigate online medical content from trustworthy organizations.” He cited a study conducted by Consumer Reports (1), indicating that one-third of adults with Internet access in their homes believe health site content is too influenced by advertisers; 25 percent consider information on the Internet to be questionable at best.

The Consumer Reports Medical Guide is available on a nominal subscription basis ($4.95 per month or $19.00 per year -- a 20 percent discount off the full-year rate of $24), and also offers regular updates and extensive material addressing how consumers can best interact with their doctors. Said Dr. Nash, “In clinical practice, it is important for patients to understand all the options, risks and benefits of treatments so they can participate in making the best choices. Too often, however, information patients find on the Internet is irrelevant or completely inaccurate, which wastes time and causes more confusion. The Consumer Reports Medical Guide walks them through the process of asking questions to reach the most informed decisions about their healthcare.”

Consumers Union has a long history of providing independent information on a variety of health and medical issues through Consumer Reports Magazine and Consumer Reports On Health, a monthly newsletter providing up-to-date news on health, medicine, fitness and nutrition. The Consumer Reports Medical Guide joins several health initiatives from Consumers Union that demonstrate its ongoing commitment to high-quality, safe and affordable healthcare services and medications for all Americans including, a free public education service identifying the safety and cost-effectiveness of many widely used prescription drugs; and, outlining current efforts at the state and federal level to improve healthcare, with a method for consumers to contact elected officials.


(1) Consumer Reports Market Segmentation Survey, 2004


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