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Consumer Health Guide: Evaluating Health Information

Evaluating Health Information on the Internet

It has been estimated that 27% of patients use the Internet to obtain health or medical information. The Internet offers opportunities for patient self-education but websites can share unsubstantiated medical information that is misleading and unreliable. Here are some things to look at when evaluating websites:

  • What makes health information "good"? Who created and maintains this website? Find the "About Us" link on the page.
  • The source of funding for a website should be clearly stated. Beware of sites that give false information in order to sell you a product.
  • Look for creditable organizations associated with the website and if the information posted has been reviewed or if there is an editorial board.
  • How current is the information? Look for the most recent update or review date.
  • Are medical facts and figures referenced? Beware of unverified "expert opinion" or "customer testimonials."
  • What information about you does the site ask for? Does the site post a privacy policy? Does the site require you to register or login?
  • Does the site provide a way for you to contact the site owner with problems or questions?
  • Find & Evaluate Content Evaluation Guide

Organizations that Monitor Health Information

Health on the Net Foundation

The Health On the Net Foundation (HON) promotes and guides the deployment of useful and reliable online health information, and its appropriate and efficient use. Created in 1995, HON is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.