|Tips on finding good health information
|by Maya Hollinshead
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 (http://www.hohsc.org).
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
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