An analysis of online messages about probiotics

BMC Gastroenterol. 2013 Jan 11:13:5. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-13-5.


Internet websites are a resource for patients seeking information about probiotics. We examined a sample of 71 websites presenting probiotic information. We found that descriptions of benefits far outnumbered descriptions of risks and commercial websites presented significantly fewer risks than noncommercial websites. The bias towards the presentation of therapeutic benefits in online content suggests that patients are likely interested in using probiotics and may have unrealistic expectations for therapeutic benefit. Gastroenterologists may find it useful to initiate conversations about probiotics within the context of a comprehensive health management plan and should seek to establish realistic therapeutic expectations with their patients.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Internet / trends*
  • Patient Education as Topic / trends*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome