An analysis of online messages about probiotics

Margaret A. Brinich, Mary Beth Mercer, Richard R. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

8 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalBMC Gastroenterology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2013


  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Doctor-patient communication
  • Ethics
  • Probiotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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