Evaluating Health Information

The QVHD website posts information about diseases that are relevant to our community. For information on other diseases or conditions, you can access information on the internet. However, finding reliable health information on the internet can be tricky. While there are many good resources for information on prevention or learning about a disease or condition, there are equally as many bad resources that focus on promoting an agenda, service or products.  The same can be said for sources such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or blogs.

So how do you find reliable information? The Medical Library Association (MLA) has a list of the “Top Ten” most useful consumer general health websites as well as reliable websites for cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Top Ten Most Useful Consumer Resources

There are also key questions you can ask to help evaluate Internet Health Information.

The key questions to ask about websites are taken from The FDA Consumer.  (Helpful hints and the answers to the questions are available by linking to the FDA Consumer link above.)  

1. Who runs the Web site?

2. What is the purpose of the Web site?

3. Does the site promise quick, dramatic, miraculous results?

4. What is the original source of the information on the Web site?

5. How is the information on the Web site documented?

6. How is information reviewed before it is posted on the Web site?

7. How current is the information on the Web site?

8. How does the Web site choose links to other sites?

9. What information about its visitors does the Web site collect, and why?

10. How does the Web site manage interactions with visitors?

11. Can the accuracy of information received in an e-mail be verified?

12. Is the information that is discussed in chat rooms accurate?

 

The internet is a great resource for learning. But you need to know how to use it wisely and with a critical eye to ensure you are getting accurate, reliable information. If you want to learn more about navigating the web to find reliable medical resources, take the excellent tutorial developed by U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH.)

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/webeval/webeval.html

Additional tips for evaluating health information on the internet can be found at

“MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing.”

 Remember: Information that you find on a website does not replace your doctor's advice. Your doctor is the best person to answer questions about your personal health. If you read something on the Web that does not agree with what your doctor has told you, ask him or her about it.


Quackery is common on the web! Look for warning signs! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!