The Internet is a wonderful tool, but let’s face it – for most of us it can present a bewildering and overwhelming amount of (often contradictory) information. As we hear reports that tell us that “experts” such as Dr Oz cannot be believed, ( see “Canadian doctors study Dr Oz’s advice”) the question arises, “How can I find reliable health information online?”
Here are three things I have found to be useful and reliable:
1. Health on the Net Foundation. This organization offers a number of services. First, valid and reliable health websites can obtain certification, allowing them to use the HON Code logo. I look for this logo to assure me that the website can be trusted. Alternatively, you can do an HON search or use other tools to test websites for validity.
2. Medivizor. Sign up for free, to get information sent to you, about your health concern. You don’t have to look for the new research, it will come to you! At present only certain conditions are supported, but they plan to expand this. Check it out if you want information on:
Cancer: Breast, colorectal, prostate, lung, and melanoma.
Diabetes: All types.
Cardiovascular disease: Hypertension, coronary artery disease, or stroke.
Infertility & reproductive technologies
3. Medline Plus provides some tips as well as additional resources for checking whether the information you are finding can be trusted.
As a general rule, avoid getting your health advice from celebrities, actors, or anyone else who’s is not a health professional. Be skeptical; look for the evidence to back up claims (personal anecdotes are not evidence). The “expert” should list the source of their information (recent research published in professional journals) as well as their own credentials and contact information. They should not have any conflict of interest such as being paid by a company to promote their product. Beware of anyone making extravagant or extreme claims. When in doubt, ask your health care team.