Surfing the Internet-Finding Credible Healthcare Information

The Internet has become a convenient place to find information to all of your healthcare questions. With thousands of health websites available, how are surfers to find reliable advice.

Here are a few steps that I recommend to make sure the information you find on the Internet is accurate, safe, and reliable.

Know thy source
First check out the “about us” page on the website. This will tell you who publishes the website. Websites from the government, universities, and non-profit organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society usually have high quality websites.

Look at the contact information
Approach the information with caution if the website doesn’t provide an easy way to connect with the organization.

Look for expert written material
Information written by doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, or other experts in a field of medicine is probably a credible resource.

Look for expert reviewers
Look at the “about us” and see who reviews the material. For example, a cardiologist should review information written on heart disease. Health sites reviewed by lay persons or attorneys are suspect.

Look at the web address
The last three letters of the address helps identify the organization that sponsors the website.
.gov are sites sponsored by the government
.edu are sites sponsored by educational institutions
.org may be non-profit, scientific, or research sites
.com can be used by anyone else

Reputable sites will back information with medical research and will site the actual sites.

Buyer beware
Be cautious with any site that offers miracle cures that have no research to back up the claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid sites that have “secret ingredients” or contains compounds “that your doctor won’t tell you about.” Look for scientific proof on all claims. I suggest you contact your doctor before starting any new medical therapies including supplements.

Check for certification
Look for the Health On the Net Foundation logo, which is usually displayed on a health website’s home page.

This is a non-profit organization, which accredits health websites that stick to certain principles to assure that the information on the site is reliable.

Bottom Line: There is usually and credible information on the Internet. Use these guidelines to identify credible and reliable information, which will make you a better patient and improve your relationship with your doctor.

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