Evaluating Online Health Information

With so much health-related information available online, how can you tell fact from fiction? The UHS healthcare team offers some tips:

  • University and government-run sites are among the best. For other English-language resources, look at sites from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

  • Is there an e-mail address, phone number or mailing address to contact someone? 

  • When was the site last updated? The more current the site, the more timely the information.

  • Does the site heavily promote a product or service? Organizations, businesses and individuals may have their own marketing, social or political agendas.

  • Are there links? Reputable organizations don't view themselves as the sole source of information.

  • Be critical of direct-to-consumer marketing and advertisements from companies with a new product or who are touting a new and better pharmaceutical, medical device or procedure. 

  • Does the site have an editorial board, or list the names and credentials of those who create its content?

  • Online support groups are intended for individuals, families and friends of persons affected, and often do an excellent job bringing peers together. They may provide useful links and resources, but aren't primary sources of health information.

  • Be wary of information supported only by opinion, experience, testimonial and advertisement.