The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Finding Reliable Health information Online

What is Reliable Health Information?

Your health is a major investment. Would you trust someone who is not qualified to give you medical advice with your well-being? This is where the hunt for credible health information begins. The internet is both a wonderful and terrifying place for finding information. With it readily available at your fingertips, many people are now relying on websites to find out information about their health questions. A simple Google search for Health Information yields 38.1 million results, but only a portion of them are published by credible sources.

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 Individual pages may not source their information, so it could be inaccurate or out of date.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!

Health Information on the Web

What is Not Reliable Information

There are many great sources of credible health information online. However, there are many sites that appear to be trustworthy but are actually not. Now that the basics of finding good information have been covered, let's focus on what to watch for if a website looks suspicious.

  • 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:

Here are some sites that are credible sources of information. Use them for your health questions, but remember: the information here does not replace the expertise of a medical professional!

This website was designed to make credible health information readily available, and is produced by the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.

Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic is a leading force in medical research and health information.

Medline Plus

Sponsored by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, this site covers a variety of topics.

National Institutes of Health

This website has a wide variety of health topics to choose from.

Made By

Jessica Popyack

Nursing Student

Saint Francis University