The Internet puts a large amount of health and wellness information at your fingertips. But if that information is outdated, incorrect or downright dangerous, it could cause more harm than good.
So which websites should you trust? Follow these basic rules for evaluating health information websites and start feeling better about finding health information online:
1. Know who sponsors the site. If the website doesn’t disclose who sponsors the site, ignore it. Most credible sites — like those from government agencies and reputable health organizations or associations — will be clear about who they are right on the home page. If you’re still not sure, check the “about us” section to see where the information is coming from.
2. Check the date. Some health information becomes outdated quite quickly. Check for a posting date, “reviewed on” date, or copyright date to ensure it’s still relevant.
3. Know the website’s audience. The site should clearly indicate—on either the homepage or the About page—whether it is intended for consumers or healthcare professionals.
4. Look for factual information. The website should offer health information that can be confirmed using sources such as professional literature or links to other reliable web pages. You should also steer clear of articles that make claims that seem too good to be true. And any information presented as an opinion should be clearly labeled as a blog post or personal opinion story and should come from a qualified professional or organization.
6. Find a way to provide feedback. A trustworthy web site will welcome your feedback and include contact information. The Contact Us or About sections are generally the best places to look.
After reading this information, how likely are you to speak with a healthcare professional or someone you know about finding quality health information online?