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MUSC Medical Links Charleston Links Archives Catalyst Advertisers Seminars and Events Research Studies Public Relations Research Grants MUSC home page Community Happenings Campus News Applause


Tips on finding good health information

by Maya Hollinshead
Hands on Health—South Carolina Program Assistant
There is good health information on the Web, but it can be hard to sort through for reliable information.  Some information is written to sell a medication or a product.  Whether the goal is to find reliable information for personal reasons or to help a patient, the following tips provide guidance on evaluating  health Web sites to find the best sites.
  • Know what you are looking for. Do you want advice from a medical professional or the latest medical research?  Examine the information you’ve found to see if it meets your needs.
  • Check out the sources and find out who runs the site. Reputable Web sites make it easy to find who is responsible for the site.  Always look for the “About Us” section in a heath site, which will state the purpose of the site and how the information was chosen. Looking at Web addresses will also give you clues. If the sponsor comes from a commercial Web site (.com), it may be trying to sell you something. Usually information from a medical organization (.org), a university (.edu) or a government site (.gov) is trustworthy.
  • Look for up-to-date information. Web sites should be periodically updated. The best ones post the dates of review or update.
  • See if the health Web site has an advisory board. If it does, check the list to see if some of the members are physicians or other health professionals. Some sites list specializations and credentials. Some sites have health professionals write material or review the information to make sure it is correct and current.  
  • Don’t be scammed. Check to see if the site promises cures for illnesses or things that are too good to be true. If the information doesn’t seem reasonable, it probably isn’t good information.
  • Look out for your privacy. Some sites will ask for personal information to give you personal feedback about your health. Check their privacy policies to find out if they share this information with other groups.
For a great example of a reliable health Web site, check out the MUSC Library’s Hands on Health-SC (  The library’s award-winning consumer health site is designed to address the health needs and interests of South Carolina’s citizens and communities. It is a gateway to reputable Internet health sites with additional content written for readers with low literacy skills. Hands on Health also includes a directory of health resources called Go Local-SC, that helps people find health services, many free or low-cost, in or near their community.
The section Find Out About organizes the landscape of health and wellness into broad categories. If you want information on a disease, search the A-Z listing in Disease and Health Issues. Learn about patient rights, questions to ask your doctor, and informed consent in Being a Smart Patient. Other topics include death and dying, disabilities and special needs, health statistics, medicaid, multilingual health sites, senior health, and staying healthy.  
Environmental health, public health, and special sections for kids, teens, and seniors, and Spanish readers round out the information in Hands on Health.
If you are looking for a health service or health provider anywhere in South Carolina, select Go Local-SC from the home page. This online directory lists thousands of medical and community services. The search can be narrowed down by type of service, health issue, and by county or major city.
Wellness Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 9, will focus on Hands on Health and will be held in the lobby of the Children’s Hospital.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.