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NM4219: New Media in Health Communication: Sources of Health Articles

Tips on finding reliable health information online

Using the internet to research health issues can be a useful tool.  But beware, as some websites may contain unreliable information. A search for a condition such as cancer can bring up thousands of results, so how can you determine which websites are the most trustworthy?

The information should be:

  • approved by a clinical expert
  • reviewed and updated regularly
  • unbiased
  • non-commercial (not trying to sell you anything)
  • not claiming to replace the advice given by a doctor
  • not asking you to pay for a full emailed diagnosis

(From http://www.nhs.uk/aboutNHSChoices/aboutnhschoices/staying-safe-online/Pages/find-health-information-online.aspx )

It is also useful to search for the website's Sponsorship / Editorial policy. For example, WebMD's policy on sponsorship and third-party content is clearly explained here.

 

Similarly, MedlinePlus states in its Quality Guidelines that it has "clear differentiation between content and advertising... advertisers or sponsors must not play a role in selecting or editing health information."

Free health news online

Here are some sites that offer free (but credible) health news and articles online.