Finding Good Health Info on the Web
Finding accurate and appropriate health information on the web is difficult.  Information at sites for the layperson is not consistently reliable, studies have shown.  And Consumers Union’s Consumer WebWatch project has found that advertisements on commercial web sites, such as Health-Central.com, aren’t always clearly labeled and that ads often creep into editorial content.   

To find dependable information, follow these tips:   

  • Avoid general search engines such as Yahoo! or Google, which often yield excessive or questionable information.
  • Start at respected general-health sites.  The best is MEDLINEplus (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/), the National Library of Medicine's consumer-health site.  It has numerous tools--including a medical encyclopedia and a drug-reference guide--produced by reliable government or nonprofit groups.  Other good starting points: Healthweb (www.healthweb.org), which has links to sites chosen by medical librarians; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) which has information about public-health issues, including bioterrorism.
  • For more detailed information, look for a reliable, noncommercial organization that specializes in your particular concern. MEDLINEplus has a comprehensive list of such organizations, as does the Directory of Health Organizations (dirline.nlm.nih.gov).
  • Other reliable sites that can get you started include Oncolink (www.oncolink.upenn.edu) for cancer information; Clinical-Trials.gov (www.clinicaltrials.gov) for ongoing trials; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov/cder/drug) for latest information on new drugs and recently identified risks.
from:  Consumer Reports, January 2002 issue, page 61
 
 
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Scott Toste, Pharm.D., R.Ph.
Last updated: 1/23/02