Who among us hasn’t used the internet to do some health or nutrition research? There are endless options for finding health information on the web. But how do you determine whether the site you’re looking at is reliable—or that the advice they offer is safe?
The Internet offers endless useful information and entertainment. However, it also offers misinformation, biased accounts and information that is simply untrue. In order to protect yourself when looking for health information, you need to evaluate each website before relying on it.
Determining the Reliability of an Internet Site
When trying to determine if an Internet site is a reliable place for health care information, consider the following:
- Is the name of the author listed on the page?
- Is there contact information for the author other than an email address?
- Does the author provide a place to find further information and/or the research that was used so you can verify the facts that are discussed?
- Are there charts, graphs or other visuals to support the author’s claims?
- Is the information written with objectivity or is the author bias throughout it?
- Do the advertisements promote the author or company opinion?
- Do the advertisements relate to the topic or subject?
- How recently was the page written, published or last updated?
- Can you verify the information or conclusions through other credible websites?
American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org
The official site of the American Cancer Society.
American Heart Association: www.heart.org
The official site of the American Heart Association, which provides information about cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
American Institute for Preventive Medicine: www.healthylife.com
The official site of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA): www.aafa.org
The AAFA’s official site.
National Arthritis Foundation: www.arthritis.org
The official site of the National Arthritis Foundation.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network www.rheumatoidarthriti
Mental Health America: www.nmha.org
The official site of Mental Health America, formerly known as the National Mental Health Association.
National Safe Kids Campaign: www.safekids.org
The official site of the National Safe Kids Campaign.
Reliable websites for General Health information:
Health Finder: www.healthfinder.gov
General health information from A to Z.
Provides services that help physicians, consumers, providers and health plans navigate the complexity of the health care system.
Provides health care and medication information on numerous health care topics.
Health information from the world’s largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine..
Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.com
Access to the experience and knowledge of more than 2,000 physicians and scientists of the Mayo Clinic.
Reliable websites with information about nutrition, weight and fitness:
A service of the National Agricultural Library, USDA, this site provides consumers with easy online access to government information on food and human nutrition.
Food and Nutrition Information Center: fnic.nal.usda.gov/
A leader in online global nutrition information, the FNIC website contains over 2,000 links to current and reliable nutrition information.
The American Society for Nutrition: www.nutrition.org
A premier research society dedicated to improving the quality of life through the science of nutrition.
American Dietetic Association (ADA): www.eatright.org
With nearly 70,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
National Association for Health and Fitness (NAHF): www.physicalfitness.org
The official site of the National Association for Health and Fitness (NAHF).
President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition: www.fitness.gov
This site is the product of an advisory committee of 20 volunteer citizens who advise the President through the Secretary of Health and Human Services about physical activity, fitness and sports in America.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of reliable medical and health websites. There are many more out there–far too many to list. But this should help you get started and these sites can be a benchmark for what a reliable site should look like.
Website information should never replace your physician’s advice. For specific healthcare information that applies to you and your needs, always consult your own doctor or other healthcare professional.