Find Reliable

Health Information

Finding good health information online can be confusing.

Information may be wrong, misleading, or out of date. Some websites that look like news stories or health information pages are actually advertisements trying to sell products. Other websites appear to provide factual information but only include stories of personal experiences which are likely to be biased. Some companies secretly sponsor websites to promote their services or products. Even when a website is OK, the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming.


Misinformation is information that is incorrect or misleading. It is often spread on the internet and through social media and used to trick people into falling for scams. We are all vulnerable. When you hear something new about COVID-19, for example, stop and ask yourself a few key questions. Find out if the information is trustworthy before you act on it or share it with others.

  1. How does it make me feel? If the information evokes strong feelings, like anger, fear, or anxiety, it may be a scam. Focus on the facts. Misinformation is heavy on emotion and light on facts.
  2. Does the information seem vague or incomplete? Are there missing pieces to the story? Look for complete details. Does the author provide proof and explain how they came to their conclusion?
  3. Is someone trying to sell me something or asking for my personal information? This is almost always red flag or a warning sign of a scam.
  4. What are reputable sources saying about the issue? Has the CDC or the World Health Organization made a statement about it? For information on recent health issues, go directly to the CDC and WHO websites.


Below are suggestions to help you to find reliable health information on online. Remember, things that sound too good to be true usually are. Be skeptical!

  1. Find out who runs the website. Consider the source. Is it a branch of the government, a university, or a health organization that you trust?
    • Government websites ending in “.gov”, such as the following websites:
      • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at
      • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at
      • National Institute on Aging at
      • National Women’s Health Information Center at
      These are all created by federal agencies and offer the most recent research and information.
    • University or medical school websites ending in “.edu” or “.org”. Examples of reliable sources include:
    • Websites for non-profit groups ending in “.org”. These can include community-based organizations, scientific, medical, or research societies, and advocacy groups. But, just because a site ends with”.org” doesn’t mean it is reputable. Scammers may set up fake “.org” sites to rip off consumers. Look further to find out about the organization’s trustworthiness. Trustworthy examples include the American Academy of Family Physicians at and the Mayo Clinic at
    • Be careful with commercial sites that end in ".com". They will probably be biased toward certain products or services, even if they are not directly selling anything.

  2. Consider the purpose of the site.
    • Does the site promote treatments or products, easy fixes, or “miracle cures”? Is someone trying to sell me something or asking for my personal information?

  3. Focus on Quality. Where did the site’s health information come from? Who wrote it?
    • Find answers on the “About us” or “Contact us” link. These may be found at the bottom of the webpage or below the title of an article. A trustworthy website includes names, professional credentials, and contact information such as an email address for authors.
    • Are there links or references to the source of the information, such as scientific studies? Can you link to the original publications?
    • When was the information last reviewed? Was it reviewed by a health professional? Check for a date at the bottom or the top of the page. It is important to use current evidence when making health decisions.
For more tips on how to find reliable health information online, visit the National Institute for Health website.
Internet Safety

The internet provides easy access to a wealth of information and tools to help make important health decisions. But it is important to be careful when searching the internet.

  • Use common sense when browsing. Do not open unexpected links or boxes that pop up while you are viewing a website. Hover your mouse over a link before you click on it to check that it goes to a reputable website.
  • Always use a strong password when you create an account or register on a website. Include a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. Change your password often.
  • Lock your electronic devices like you lock your front door. Use a passcode or fingerprint to lock your phone or tablet.
  • Look for red flags of online scams. If someone contacts you and asks you to pay by wire transfer or gift card, don’t do it. This is a scam.
Misinformation on Social Media

Social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, offer a large amount of health information.

  • Be skeptical about what you read on social networking sites. The information is often brief and may not include important details to help you find out if it is trustworthy.
  • Check that social media accounts are what they claim to be and the information on them is backed by science. This is still important even if a trusted friend posted the information. Anyone can create a story and post it on social media. Always look for sources and proof that the claims being made are true before believing what you read. Set your social media profiles to private. If someone asks to connect with you on social media, only accept their request if you really know them.
  • Limit how much personal information you share online (such as email addresses and phone numbers).
Research about Health

It might seem like what we know about a particular health topic, such as COVID-19, changes from one day to the next. This often means that scientific research is working and we are continuing to learn about a topic. Research helps us understand a health topic through careful testing. To learn more see the article How Research Works.

The scientific process follows many steps. Scientists start with a question. They look at past research to see what others have learned and then collect and analyze new data. They test and discuss what their findings might mean. Scientists then share the information and ideas with other experts. These experts give new perspectives or point out potential problems.

Conclusions are made after looking at many studies. Sometimes these conclusions change with more evidence. Science is an evolving process.

Sign up to get regular updates on the latest news and scientific research on various health topics from trusted sources. For example, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Science News provide summaries of recent developments in science with links to important studies. Other credible sources for regular updates include the Harvard University Medicine School’s blog and Kaiser Health News Morning briefing.

The Medical Library Association’s What Did My Doctor Say? webpage explains medical terminology that you may find in scientific publications. It translates medical jargon into easy-to-understand words.


 Additional tools for finding websites you can trust
 More information by health topic


  • 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 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.
  • Older adults and caregivers can find resources and reliable health information on topics of special interest to older people from the Federal Trade Commission here: Health and Fitness Information
  • CDC’s health topics index
  • overview

Dietary Supplements and Complementary Medicine

  • 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 find out if a herb or supplement might interact with your medication.

Screening Tests and Preventive Treatments

  • 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.

Mobile Health Apps

Mobile health applications (“apps”) are a type of software you can install and run on your smartphone. They can support your health in many ways, such as by helping track eating habits or physical activity, access test results from a lab, or monitor a health condition. They can also provide helpful reminders to exercise or take medications. But bear in mind that anyone can develop a health app for any reason. Apps may include inaccurate or misleading information or collect more information than is necessary. Before you download or use an app, make sure you know who produced it.

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Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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