Welcome to the Consumer Health Websites guide. The purpose of this guide is to help you find reliable, informative consumer health websites. This list is selective. A lot of good websites were left off of the guide. If you think a website should be added to the guide, feel free to let me know.
The internet is full of medical information, good and bad. It is important to look carefully at every website to determine if it is reputable and accurate. Follow these rules when evaluating websites:
Accuracy - Is the information based on sound medical research? Can the information on the web page be verified by another source? Are the sources cited reliable?
Authority - Who runs the website? Is the backed by a known organization? What do other sources say about the organization? A good site makes it easy for you to know who is responsible for the site.
Bias / Objectivity - Why does the site exist? “About this site” and “mission statement” are common titles for this type of info. Is the info provided as a public service? Do the authors express opinions? Are they trying to sell you something? Can you tell if the information you are reading is advertisement? Do the graphics, fonts, and verbiage play to the emotions? Is the author using data improperly to promote a position or a product?
Currency - How often is the site updated? Medical information changes rapidly. What was sound medical knowledge just a few years ago may not be valid today. Even if the info has not changed, you need to know the site owners have reviewed it recently to be sure it is still valid. Do the links work?
Advertising - Who pays for the site? Is there a lot of advertising? The source of funding can affect what content is presented.
Personal Information - A visitor’s health information should remain confidential. What information about YOU does the site collect and why?
Contact the Authors - Many reputable sites have an “About Us” link so you can see who is running the show. Can you get in touch with the site owner? Is there a street address, phone number or email address?