The source of funding can affect what content is presented, how the content is presented, and what the site owners want to accomplish on the site.
If a health website is trying to sell dietary supplements, herbs or homeopathic products don't use that site for a source of information.
Writers credentials matter. Don't take medical advice from websites such as eHow who rely on a cast of thousands to publish advice with few or no credentials.
Be skeptical of testimonials and rely on a thorough review of all the evidence, not opinion. Look for biases. Don't fall for advice that is one sided or lacking entirely
Look for dates on the website. If there are no dates , be cautious.Be wary of MEDICAL information THAT IS more than 2 years old
Beware of claims that one remedy will cure a variety of illnesses, that it is a "breakthrough," or that it relies on a "secret ingredient."Use caution if the site uses a sensational writing style (lots of exclamation points, for example.)You should always verify such claims on a reputable site. Quackwatch.org is one site which criticized many forms of alternative medicine.
Free Authoritative Health Websites Tampa Bay Library Consortium April 4, 2012 Emily Vardell, MLS firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.delicious.com/FLAHealthLinks
Searching for Health Info Online • 80% of Internet users, or 59% of U.S. adults, look online for health information. – Based on a September 2010 survey, but it is a remarkably stable trend dating back to 2002. • 17% of cell phone owners, or 15% of adults, have used their phone to look up health or medical information. – Of particular interest to those interested in trends related to young people, Latinos, and African Americans, since these groups are significantly more likely than other groups to have mobile Internet access.http://www.pewinternet.org/Commentary/2011/November/Pew-Internet-Health.aspx
Searching for Health Info Online • The most commonly- researched topics are: – specific diseases or conditions – treatments or procedures – doctors or other health professionals • The typical search for health information is on behalf of someone else -- information access by proxy.http://www.pewinternet.org/Commentary/2011/November/Pew-Internet-Health.aspx
What is at stake?• Anyone can put anything up on the Internet and they DO!• The quality of health information can literally be a matter of life and death.
The Reference Interview…when it comes to talking about health information• Be empathetic• Be an active listener• Use open ended questions• Respect privacy/confidentiality• Be prepared for emotions• Do not be afraid to refer the patron back to his/her health care provider – Do not interpret medical information – Use a disclaimer or caution statement Beyond an Apple a Day CE Course: http://nnlm.gov/training/consumer/apple/
Evaluating Health Info Websites http://facweb.northseattle.edu/eappel/Hayek/
Who runs and pays for the Site?• It takes money to run a website.• It should be obvious who is responsible for the site.• Where does the site get its funding? Does it sell advertising? Is it sponsored by a drug company or someone trying to sell a product?
Who runs and pays for the Site?• Look at the URL. Helps you find the site again. Helps you know who is responsible for the site.
Who runs and pays for the Site?• Web addresses can indicate the site’s purpose: – .gov government – .edu education – .org noncommercial organization – .com commercial• Look at advertisements. http://1918.pandemicflu.gov/pics/posters/drug_ad.jpg
Who is Publisher of the content?• Who is the publisher/author? – Hint: Look for the “Contact Us” section.• What is the publishers’ authority? – Are the authors qualified in the topics’ field? – Can you find information about their credentials?• Is the author a health professional? If not, do they refer to research or a health professional?
Who is Publisher of the content? Potential for bias? Opinion or fact? Research/ references to back it up?
Who is the intended Audience?• Look at the words-Are they easy to understand?Are they geared towards a particular group? Think of the ads during the evening news, a sports game, the Oscars, etc.
What is the Timeliness of the info?Information that is outdated can be dangerous!• Look for publication dates of particular articles or at the bottom of the website.• Broken links may indicate the page is not regularly updated.
Asking for Personal Information• Does the website ask for information about you? Especially information about your health? – Why are they asking? – What will they do with the information?
Watch Out for Medical Quackery• Does the information seem to good to be true?• Is the information written in language that is too difficult to understand?• Does the site or information promise miraculous results?• The website should be easy to understand and clear.• If you are unsure, check the information with another site.
Questions so far?Up Next: Recommended Websites!