The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly
Finding Reliable Health information Online
What is Reliable Health Information?
Here are some questions you should ask yourself when deciding if a website is credible:
- Who made the site? Is it government or organization sponsored? Or, is it an individual's webpage, like a blog? Individual pages may not source their information, so it could be inaccurate or out of date.
- What do they want you to do? Is there a conflict of interest- is purpose of the site to inform or to sell a product? If the motive is to persuade to try a certain product, the information may be fabricated or manipulated.
- When was the information last updated? Sources should update their webpage periodically to reflect the changes in new research. Credible sites will have the date of the latest update.
- Can you find other credible sites that back up that information? Finding other sites that support the information means that it is less likely to have been made up or be misleading.
A simple way to remember these questions is the acronym CARS- which stands for credibility, accuracy, reasonableness, and support.
Let's look at a credible webpage!
Credible sites usually end in a .gov, .edu, or .org. This site on atherosclerosis is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
This webpage makes it easy to contact the publisher with any questions or concerns. Here is a link at the top of the page. There is another link at the bottom.
The information on atherosclerosis is neatly organized so specific information is easier to find.
This site provides links to other sources to support the information found here.
This page lists its last update as July 1, 2011. Credible sites will make this information available.
What is Not Reliable Information
- Unsupported Data. Normally, if a credible website cites numbers and statistics in its content there will be a link to the source of the information. Be wary of data that goes without support.
- Missing documentation. If a website states facts without having a source to back that information up, that may be an alert that the site is not reputable.
- False Claims. Sometimes a webpage may claim to have the "miracle" cure or drug. If it seems too good to be true, try to find another reputable site that states the same thing.
If you aren't sure if a site is credible, the HONcode Site Evaluation tool breaks down the site in question step by step to help you determine whether to use it.
Credible Health Information Websites
An Important Reminder:
This website was designed to make credible health information readily available, and is produced by the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.
Sponsored by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, this site covers a variety of topics.