Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Google knows more about certain diseases than physicians ever will

Hmm…  interesting “point” “counterpoint” items on finding health information on the Web

Overall, I think Google and other search engines are doing a better job of locating health information.
However, it is good to keep in mind that search engines rank items, they do not evaluate them!
So, search safely, knowing that search engines do not index 100% of what is available on the World Wide Web.

If you do decide to find health information on the Web, please evaluate content carefully!
Health Information is best used in consultation with a professional health care provider (or 2!)

A few good guides on evaluating health information may be found at

Unlike information found in medical textbooks, which has been evaluated and edited by professionals, the information on the Internet is unfiltered. It is up to the user to evaluate and judge how good the information really is. When looking for health information it is particularly important to think about the information critically and examine the Web site carefully. Listed below are some questions and tips to think about when searching for good health information on the Internet.

What type of site is it? Is it a government site, educational or commercial? Look at the web address for the extension. The most common are .gov for government, .edu for educational, .com for commercial and .org for organizational.

Who is sponsoring the site? A good Web site will make sponsorship information clear. There should also be an address (besides an e-mail address) or a phone number to contact for more information.

What are the credentials of the sponsor or author of the material on site? If it is an organization or association, is it nationally recognized or is it a local group? Also, are the author’s qualifications relevant to the topic being discussed? For example, someone with a Ph.D. in psychology should not necessarily be accepted as an expert on nutrition.

What is the purpose of the site? Is it a public service or is it trying to sell something? If there is advertising on a page, something that is more and more common even with non-commercial sites, it should be clearly separated from the informational content. Also, it is easy to disguise promotional material as “patient education” on web sites. If a product or treatment is given a good review on one site, try to find other sites that also approve of it.

How current is the information? A good site will list when a page was first established and when it was last up-dated. If there are links to other sites, are they up-to-date?

How accurate is the information? This can be hard to determine if you’re not familiar with a topic but there are some things to look for. For example, is the information free of spelling errors and typos? Mistakes of these kind can indicate a lack of quality control. Are the sources of factual information listed? For instance, if a document states, “recent studies indicate…”, are the sources for the study listed so they can be verified? If a topic is controversial, is the information presented in a balanced way? There are many controversies in regard to treatment options; however, a good site will present the pros and cons of a particular option. Be cautious with sites that claim “miracle cures” or make conspiracy claims.

Evaluate each site separately. Links can often lead from a good site to ones of lesser quality.

Look for awards or certificates that a site has received. For example, the HON Code logo is displayed by sites that have agreed to abide by eight principals set by the Health on the Net Foundation. These principles set standards for accuracy, bias, sponsorship and confidentiality. When using a directory or search engine that rates sites, read the page that discusses what criteria are used to determine a site’s rating.

The Internet is a wonderful source of information and, when used carefully, can be very helpful in answering health-related questions. But the information found on the Internet should never be used as a substitute for consulting with a health professional. And, whenever using the Internet, keep in mind the caveat, “It is so easy to post information on the Internet that almost any idiot can do it, and almost every idiot has.”

 

And finally, a few good places to start finding reputable, timely health information

Image DetailCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the US governments primary way to communicate information on diseases, conditions, and safety. Information may be found in areas as ….






eMedicine Consumer Health has over 900 health and medical articles. Most articles include causes, symptoms, treatment options, prevention, prognosis, and more. Information may also be browsed by topic (Topics A-Z).  Additional features include picture slideshowshealth calculators, and more.




familydoctor.org -- health information for the whole family



Familydoctor.org includes health information for the whole family
Short generalized information on Diseases and Conditions (with A-Z index), Health Information for Seniors, Men, and Women, Healthy Living Topics, pages geared to Parents & Kids, and videos.  Numerous health tools in the left column (as health trackers, health assessments, and a Search by Symptom page.


 

Healthfinder.gov is a US government Web site with information and tools that can help you stay healthy. Resources on a wide range of health topics carefully selected from over 1,600 government and non-profit organizations. Social media options to connect you with people and organizations that can help you on your journey to living a healthier life.

Content includes information on over 1,600 health-related topicsQuick Guide to Healthy Living, and free interactive tools to check your health, get personalized advice, and keep track of your progress.


KidsHealth provides information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years. Material is written by doctors in understandable language at three levels: parents, kids, and teens
KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens.


 

February 13, 2012 - Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health Education (General Public) | , , ,

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