Finding Reliable Health Information on the Internet

There must be tens of thousands of health-related websites and blogs on the Internet and the list grows daily. Some sites are useful while others may present inaccurate information, misleading interpretation of studies, and out of date information. My recommendation is that you evaluate a website the first time you visit it to determine if it's reliable.
Keep in mind that content on the Internet is not regulated and anyone can publish anything. On the other hand, there is sound medical information on the Internet along with the quackery and dangerous information. You, however, need to be able to tell the difference.
As you search online you're going to find websites for health agencies and other organizations that aren't well known. By answering the following questions you will find out more. Many of these details can be found on the dashboard under the heading About or Contact Us.
Ask  yourself is who sponsors the website? Is the sponsor easily identified?It costs money to run a Website and the sponsor pays the bills. A good health-related Web site makes it easy for you to find out who is the funding source. For example:
  • .gov identifies a government sponsored site;
  • .edu indicates an educational institution,
  • .org asite that is not commercial or professional site.
  • and .com identifies a commercial.
You should also know how the site pays for itself. Does it sell advertising? Is it sponsored by a drug company? This is important because the source of funding affects what content is presented, how the content is presented and what the site owners want to accomplish. For instance, if the site about arthritis is funded by a manufacturer of a supplement that might be used for this condition, that is going to impact the site's content. It certainly will influence how reports and research are interpreted.
If the funding source is unclear or if it is a person or an organization with an interest in the topic but no direct ties to anything commercial or nonprofit you need to do more homework. Try to confirm the information about that person somewhere else. Use a search engine like Google.
You should also have information about who manages the site? Trustworthy websites have contact information for you to use. This may include a toll-free phone number, an address and an e-mail address. You should be able to reach someone who administers that website.
Still another question to ask yourself is to know the site's purpose.The site's purpose is related to who runs and pays for the website. Again, you can usually find out about this by going to the About link on the home page. There you should find a clear statement of purpose which will help you evaluate the trustworthiness of the information. Ask yourself: Why did the person create the page?
What's in it for them? Are they trying to sell me something? Do they genuinely want to teach me something?
Above all use your common sense and the information you already know about the health topic before you act on any information about a particular health topic. And if you have questions about the information, ask your physician.