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Evaluating Websites: A Short Tutorial
Just as not all websites contain the reliable information, not all health websites contain reliable information. When searching for health centered websites it's a good idea to take a close look at a few details before feeling safe with the information presented.
Accuracy - Is the information presented accurate as far as you can tell?
This can be hard on some material, but even small mistakes are concerning.
Authority - Is the piece written by an expert on the subject? A doctor or nurse?
Look for the MD, DO, RN, NP or written notice of the author's background.
Bias - Is the site trying to sell you something?
If a site leans towards only one type of drug or treatment you should probably look elsewhere.
Be sure advertising is well marked.
Be sure the web address is not related to a drug or medical company.
Currency - Look for a date stamps on the webpage.
Sometime found on the article, sometimes at the bottom of the page.
Be sure the information has been reviewed in the past year.
Coverage - Is the topic completely covered? Can you find multiple treatment options?
Look for basic information on the topic as well as diagnosis and treatment options.
Many sites will also contain information on what a patient should do now and after treatment, when it applies.
You can also look for the HON Code image at the bottom of any health site. This indicates the site has already been reviewed by the Health on the Net Foundation and approved as reliable and authoritative information.
By becoming more knowledgeable about your condition, you can be better prepared to talk with your health care provider and take a more active role in your health care. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences provides this listing of consumer health web sites for informational use only, and does not establish a professional relationship between the users and any health care provider. These materials are not intended as a substitute for the care of a qualified health care provider.