Tips for Consumers - Key messages
Finding good health information online can be confusing. Information may be out of date or only include information from personal experiences. Some companies sponsor websites to promote services or products. Scammers also use websites just to get your money. Learn how to find websites with reliable health information.
What is reliable health information?
Reliable health information comes from a dependable source and uses evidence based on science. It has information that is up to date and been reviewed by a medical expert. Things that sound too good to be true often are. Be skeptical.
Here are some tips to help you to find reliable health information
- Consider the source
- Check to see who runs the website. Is it a branch of the government, a university, or a health organization that you trust? Government websites usually end in “.gov” and websites from universities end in “.edu”.
- Does the site promote a particular treatment or product?
- Do they want your personal information or want you to buy something?
- Focus on quality
- Where did the information come from?
- When was the information last reviewed?
- Who reviewed the information?
- Be skeptical
- Why have they created the website?
- Who is paying for the site?
- Does the website make unbelievable claims?
- Does it look real or is it a fake advertisement?
How to Find Reliable Health Information Online
- These pages on the Family Doctor.org and the Medical Library Association websites have tips on how to tell if information is reliable.
Information on Health Topics
- Medline Plus from the National Institute of Health contains a wealth of information on Health Topics and Drugs & Supplements. It includes videos, tools, and a searchable medical dictionary. Some information is available in other languages.
- Family Doctor.org contains health information and resources about illnesses, conditions and diseases provided by the American Academy of Family Physicians. It includes information on health topics and immunization schedules and is searchable and organized by age groups. There are many helpful tools such a symptom tracker, a medical dictionary and easy to read immunization schedules.
- Medline Plus: Drugs, Herbs and Supplements has information about dietary supplements, like vitamins and herbs. You can look up key information such as whether a dietary supplement works, the correct dose, and if the supplement is safe to take with other supplements or medications.
- You can also search Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database for more information, effectiveness ratings, and potential interactions with drugs.
Screening Test and Preventive Treatments
Healthfinder.org from the US Department of Health & Human Services contains information on Health Topics. Enter your age and gender to find what health screening tests that you may need.