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A health Web site may ask you to “subscribe” or “become a member.” In some cases, this may be so that it can collect a user fee or select information for you that’s relevant to your concerns.
In all cases, this will give the site personal information about you.
This guide provides help for finding reliable Web sites and outlines things to consider in evaluating health information from Web sites and social media sources. Be cautious when you evaluate health information on the Internet, especially if the site If you’re visiting a health Web site for the first time, these five quick questions can help you decide whether the site is a helpful resource. Also, opinions or advice should be clearly set apart from information that’s “evidence-based” (that is, based on research results).
If the person or organization in charge of the site didn’t create the material, the original source should be clearly identified.
Some Web sites have an editorial board that reviews content.
Others put the names and credentials of the individuals who reviewed a Web page in an Acknowledgments section near the end of the page.
Others only link to sites that have met certain criteria. Social media sites have also become an important source of online health information for some people. For example, the Health Topics A–Z page on the NCCIH site provides links to some documents that NCCIH didn’t create; in those instances, the source of the documents is always identified.Many online health resources are useful, but others may present information that is inaccurate or misleading, so it’s important to find sources you can trust and to know how to evaluate their content. In addition to identifying the source of the material you’re reading, the site should describe the evidence (such as articles in medical journals) that the material is based on. The About This Site page should include a clear statement of purpose. Also, some legitimate “.org” sites belong to organizations that promote a specific agenda; their content may be biased. The site’s purpose is related to who runs and pays for it.
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Other types of site content, however, such as news reports or summaries of scientific meetings, may never be updated; their purpose is to describe an event, rather than to provide the most up-to-date information on a topic.