Health Information Detective:

How does your source of health information stack up?

Here's The Scoop

Did you know... That the majority of the US population relies on information from the internet when they seek to learn more about various health topics? With the web being a widely available and user friendly source of information, more and more people are turning to the internet as their main source of health information. Sounds great, right?! The benefit of using the internet as a source of information related to health greatly depends on the accuracy and veracity of the specific website/source consulted. With the countless number of websites and resources available at just the click of a mouse, it is important to be armed with the skills and knowledge necessary to evaluate the credibility of the source from which you gain information related to your health. By using this guide, you will find that in no time you will be able to quickly and efficiently find genuine and current health information to promote and preserve you and your family's health and wellbeing.

How do I know if a source is credible or not?

There are few basic questions to ask yourself when evaluating the credibility of a certain website:

1. Who is the author? (Credible sources are written by experts in their particular field of study and often times will cite the sources they used when compiling their information)

2. How recent is the source? (Check to see when the webpage was last updated or the publication date of the article. Health information is constantly evolving and expanding due to new research findings and technological advances, so the more current the article, the better!)

3. What is the author's purpose? (Is the author displaying biases, is the author intending to promote a certain drug/medical treatment).

4. What is the domain of the source? (For example, anyone can create a .com, .net, or .org domain. However, .edu websites are reserved only for colleges and universities and .gov websites are specifically made by the government, with both types considered trusted sources of information. Although, you must pay attention to .edu sources since students may create a webpage with space on their college's server - so don't automatically assume a .edu website is credible without asking these other questions first).

5. What is the writing style? (Be on the lookout for misspellings and poor grammar. Reputable and credible sources of information pay very close attention to writing style to make sure that the information is easy to understand for the public).

6. Who is the sponsor? (Is the website sponsored by a reputable group or organization, like the American Heart Association? If you cannot tell what group or individual developed the site, rethink your decision to use this site as a source of information).

Visit Medline Plus now!

This is an example of a quality and reputable .gov website, which provides users with easy to understand and accurate health information ranging from various diseases and conditions to medical treatments and drugs.

Finding health and wellness information on the Internet - a doctor's perspective

Additional Tips and Tricks

Some other key points to keep in mind as you seek out credible health information includes the importance of avoiding websites such as Wikipedia, whose information may be changed by others who visit the site and is not necessarily produced by an expert in the field. Also, it is a good idea to compare the information you read to other seemingly credible sources you find. If information on a particular website does not match up with that found on a credible site, such as Medline plus, then you may want to continue searching for another source without these discrepancies in information. As always, do not be afraid to ask your healthcare provider or nurse for additional sources of recommended health information, whether that be a website or educational pamphlets created by a certain agency or professional organization. Learning about your health is a key step in becoming an active participant in the healthcare you receive, so be sure that you become a true health information detective to ensure the information you gain will help you in your quest for health and overall wellbeing. So...stay calm and search on! (Like a health detective, of course!)
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