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Vol. 11 No. 1 (2020): Volume 11: Determining Health

Challenges in remaining "UpToDate": A case study identifying errors in evidence-based point-of-care resources

February 29, 2020


Our understanding of the prevalence of mental health disorders (MHDs) in society is in the midst of a paradigm shift: where MHDs were once considered rare within a population, studies through the last decade have converged to the conclusion that they are, in fact, near universal. Consequently, the demand for mental health treatment has resulted in the training of Primary-Care Physicians (PCPs) to identify, diagnose, and treat common MHDs. As generalists, PCPs require specialised point-of-care clinical resources to educate their patients and provide them with evidence-based treatment plans; UpToDate is one such resource. As a database of synthesized peer-reviewed medical information, written and approved by physician-experts from their review of contemporary peer-reviewed literature, this resource is considered a gold standard. Here, we examine an MHD-specific investigative case study on Generalized Anxiety Disorder where the synthesized UpToDate medical information was found to be in conflict with the original studies. In this era of unrelenting bombardment of digital data, the responsibility of assessing the truth of the information falls to the consumer. While a reliance on reputable information-sharing platforms facilitates both the access and assessment of truth, we discuss the risks of unintended errors, their propagation, and the potential impact at the point-of-care.