All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction and should not take the place of health care or services you may need. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Evaluating Health Web Sites

Since it is possible for virtually anyone to post information on a web page, it is important to evaluate the information you find. Here are some points to look at when evaluating health sites:

1. Who developed this site? Is an author clearly identified? Are the credentials of the author listed?
It is always best to seek information from a “known quantity”. Find out as much as you can about the author or organization posting the health information. This may be expressed in listed credentials about the person or a description of the organization providing the site.

2. Does the page show when it was last updated? Are the links to other resources still active?
Many people have placed information on the web as a one-time effort without ever providing updated information. A date on the page will help you to assess if the information is current. Check to see if the links are current. If they aren’t, this may mean that the page hasn’t been updated.

3. Is contact information provided so that you can e-mail, call, or write the author?
Direct connection to the organization or author provides a mechanism for you to ask questions about the origin of the information on the site, and the authority of the author.

4. What is the purpose of the information?
Assess the reason for the information provided. Is the language of the article persuasive, trying to lead you to purchase something or join a program or is the information provided for informational purposes only? If the page is designed for commercial purposes, there may be conflict of interest with the information provided. It is best to stick with non-commercial sites.

5. Can the information be verified in other sources?
If a web site is not well documented, it is especially important to verify the information you find in other sources. If any questions arise about information discovered in any source, those questions should be directed back to a health care provider.

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