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Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the time course of growth in general Google-reflected information on drugs used for anesthesia. As a contrast to the changes in general Google-reflected information we used the changes in academic PubMed-reflected information.
Methods: General Google-reflected information on anesthetics was assessed by counting the number of Google Web pages. Academic information was assessed by counting the number of articles in medico-biological journals covered by the PubMed database (The National Library of Medicine). The ratio of Google Web pages to PubMed articles (G/P Ratio) was used to indicate prevalence of Google-related information. Twenty-five agents used for anesthesia were selected from three pharmacological groups – general anesthetics, local anesthetics, and opioids -- based on the frequency of their association with anesthesia in academic medical journals. The time course of growth in general Google-reflected information was determined for five 5-year periods, from 1993 to 2017.
Results: With the growing role of the Web, the number of Google Web pages on drugs used for anesthesia increased rapidly. As a result, the relationship between general Google-reflected and academic PubMed-reflected information on anesthetics profoundly changed. Before the 1998-2002 period, the number of Google Web pages on anesthetics was mostly a fraction of the number of PubMed articles. By the 2013-2017 period, the relationship was completely reversed: for any anesthetic, the number of Google Web pages was at least three times greater than the number of PubMed articles. However, the relationship of general Web-related information and academic information with different anesthetics was very variable. In 2013-2017, the G/P Ratio, indicating the magnitude of general information dominance, for the 25 agents varied from 3.0 (remifentanil) to 23.2 (oxycodone). The dominance of Google information was especially profound with drugs that have a wider spectrum of possible use beyond the field of anesthesia, such as oxycodone or diazepam.
Conclusion: General Google-reflected information is rapidly growing and, as a result, its dominance over academic PubMed-reflected information is constantly increasing.
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