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Evaluating Information on a Health Website

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Brief guide to evaluating the information on a health website. Part of a LibGuide.

Published in: Health & Medicine
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Evaluating Information on a Health Website

  1. 1. Evaluating Information In general, reputable sources will provide high quality information. However, it is always a good idea to take a close look at the information itself to make sure that it is reliable and suitable for your needs.
  2. 2. Evaluating Information Checklist When examining the information on a page, ask yourself the following questions: • Is the information factual or opinion-based? • Is the information current? • Does the information answer my question? • Is the information consistent with other sources?
  3. 3. Facts vs. Opinions When you search for health information online, you should try to find information that is factual and not based on personal opinions. Even if an opinion comes from a medical professional, it is still just that: an opinion. Relying too much on opinions and not the facts can lead to poor health outcomes. Leave the medical advice to your doctor, and focus on finding factual information.
  4. 4. THINK! Are some types of online sources more likely to contain opinions, rather than facts, than other sources?
  5. 5. THINK! Are some types of online sources more likely to contain opinions, rather than facts, than other sources? ANSWER: Personal blogs and other sources that are not extensively reviewed by medical professionals are among the most likely sources of opinions instead of facts. You should take extra care to make sure you are getting accurate information when consulting these sources.
  6. 6. Use of Current Information Always check for the date when an article was published or last updated. In general, stick to using sources that are at most two years old. The more recent, the better. If you cannot find a date, do not use the source. It is never worth the risk of using outdated information.
  7. 7. Is My Question Answered? It may seem obvious, but you should always check that the information you found answers your research question. Even high quality information will not mean much if it is not useful to you in your specific context. Try a different source if you one find doesn’t look quite right. TIP: Use the CTRL+F command to do a keyword search on a webpage to jump right to what you’re looking for.
  8. 8. Consistency with Other Sources If you find high quality information that is supported by science, you should be able to verify that it is accurate by checking to see if it is consistent with other sources. Never make a health decision based on only one website. Because there is so much misinformation on the internet, it is important to check multiple sources to find a consensus. In general, reputable health information sources will agree with one another. If you find a website that says something different than all other sources, do not use it.
  9. 9. Review: Information Evaluation Checklist Keep these criteria in mind when evaluating information: • Is the information factual or opinion-based? ▫ Factual information is more reliable than personal opinions. • Is the information current? ▫ Stick to articles that were published or updated within the last 2 years. • Does the information answer my question? ▫ An article may provide accurate information, but it is only useful if it answers your question. Try a different source if you don’t see what you’re looking for. • Is the information consistent with other sources? ▫ Always consult more than one source to verify that you are getting accurate information.

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