Recognize Reliable Health Information on the Web
About Health on the Web
The best tool for locating reliable health information on the Web is your own common sense. Using this guide can help you find information you can trust.
- Know what you're looking for. Do you want advice from a doctor or nurse? Or do you want the latest medical research? Or maybe you want to talk to a group of people who share your concerns. Examine the information you've found to see if it meets your needs.
- Check the sponsors. If the sponsor comes from a commercial Web site (.com), it may be trying to sell you something. Usually information from a medical organization (.org), a university (.edu) , or a government site (.gov) is trustworthy
- Look for up-to-date information. Web sites should be periodically updated and the best ones post the dates of review or update.
- Check your sources. Look for an āabout this siteā type of link where you can read about the purpose of the site and how the information was chosen. There should be evidence of health care professionals being involved in the provision of health information.
- The site is easy to use. The page loads quickly onto your computer and it is easy to navigate without getting lost. A site map or table of contents is provided making information easy to find. Information is understandable and medical terms are explained.
- Don't be scammed. If the information doesn't seem reasonable, it probably isn't good information. If you have any doubts, check (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthfraud.html/), a government Web site providing information about health related hoaxes and rumors. Another site that can help you judge a site's trustworthiness is (http://www.hon.ch/MedHunt/)
- Look out for your privacy. Some sites will ask for personal information so it can give you individual feedback about your health. Check their privacy policies to find out if they share this information with other groups. If you are buying something with a credit card, only use sites which have security as indicated by the little padlock icon in the far left-hand corner. They should also have a policy guaranteeing their security.
To learn more:
- Evaluating Health Information: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine
- This 16-minute video teaches people how to evaluate health Websites. Learn what to look for, including ads, and how to find out who is running the site.
- Evaluating Health Websites
(National Network of Libraries of Medicine)
- Tips on how to evaluate health Web sites. Includes links to other helpful sites.
- Finding and Evaluating Online Resources
(National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- Things to think about when using a health information Website.