Finding Quality Health Information On The Internet

Here’s how to ensure the information you find should be trusted — or trashed.

Google any health issue and you’re likely to find an unmanageable amount of hits. That’s just the nature of the Internet. Unfortunately, it’s hard to decide what site provides fact versus fiction.

The Internet puts a large amount of health and wellness information at your fingertips. But if that information is out-dated, incorrect or downright dangerous, it causes more harm than good. You need to be able to “rate” the information you find. Well, now you can.

The 7 signs of a “healthy” health-related website

Follow these basic rules and start feeling better about the online health information you find.

  1. You know who sponsors the site. If the website doesn’t disclose who sponsors the site, ignore it. Most reputable sites — such as those from government agencies and reputable health organizations or associations — will let you know who they are right on the home page. If you’re still not sure, check the “about us” section to see who ultimately sponsors the site.
  2. The information or website is dated. Some health information becomes out-dated quite quickly. Check for a date, “last updated” or copyright date to ensure it’s still relevant today.
  3. The website uses an editorial or advisory board. This helps to ensure that many facets of health and wellness are covered and that dedicated professionals have a general consensus on the content being presented.
  4. The site offers a clear privacy policy. If additional information is offered via email, or if registration is required to access some or all parts of the website, then a clear privacy policy must be in place. That way you’ll know how your information is going to be used and if it will be given to other companies or organizations. If a privacy policy doesn’t exist, if you don’t agree with it or if it’s too complicated to understand, don’t divulge any personal information about yourself.
  5. You can provide feedback. A site that’s dedicated to being relevant will ask you for your feedback on topics of interest to you. That way, the site is more likely to remain relevant to its readers.
  6. Canada-specific information is given. In some cases, it matters that the sources used to create the information are Canadian. For example, when it comes to nutrition, Canada’s Food Guide contains information that is different from the guides of other countries since it takes our Canadian lifestyle into consideration.
  7. The website doesn’t try to replace your doctor. Only you and your doctor can decide what is best for your health. The website should recognize the importance of your relationship with your doctor and state that the information presented is no substitute for the advice your doctor or health professional gives you.