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Evaluating Consumer Health Websites

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Evaluating Consumer Health Websites

  1. 1. Finding Reliable HealthInformation on the InternetChristine Caufield-Noll, MLIS, AHIPCommunity Health LibraryJohns Hopkins Bayview Medical CenterSummer 2012
  2. 2. Objective and Goals• Objective – to help you be an informed partner in your health care• Goals – you will understand how to evaluate a health website – you will learn how to use MedlinePlus.gov for disease, drug, and directory information – you will be aware of other reliable drug websites on the Internet
  3. 3. Did you know? • A Pew Internet survey reported that 57% of American adults use the Internet to find healthcare information • The most commonly-researched topics are specific diseases or conditions; treatments or procedures; and doctors or other health professionals. • A typical search for health information is on behalf of someone else – information access by proxySource: http://www.pewinternet.org/Commentary/2011/November/Pew-Internet-Health.aspx
  4. 4. About the Internet • No one is in charge • There are few rules and regulations • Anyone can build a website • No educational or professional qualifications are necessary • Therefore, you cannot automatically trust information found on the WebFrom: Internet Power Searching: The advanced manual,Phil Bradley, Neal-Schuman Publishers
  5. 5. Remember the ABCs of evaluation Accuracy Authority Bias Currency Comprehension
  6. 6. Remember the ABCs of evaluation Accuracy • Does the site provide references to scientific literature? (popular media doesn’t count) Authority • Is the information from a credible source? (check the About Us section and the site’s domain) Bias • Who pays for the site? Are ads/sponsored content clearly labeled?
  7. 7. Remember the ABCs of evaluation Currency • Are there dates on the material? (under 5 yrs) Comprehension • Is the information understandable and the site easy to navigate?
  8. 8. Warning• Watch out for sites like – WebMD.com – Gerd.com – DrKoop.com• These sites and other like them may have some reliable information, but their main goal is not to educate the user but to generate money
  9. 9. But how can I tell if a health website is reliable or not?
  10. 10. Example website evaluation• Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Aging center – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy- aging/MY00374 – This site is in the top results for a Google search of senior health• Let’s check it out using our ABC’s of evaluation criteria
  11. 11. Ads byGoogle
  12. 12. “Our mission is to empower peopleto manage their health. Weaccomplish this by providing usefuland up-to-date information andtools that reflect theexpertise and standard ofexcellence of Mayo Clinic.”
  13. 13. “The senior medical editors areexperienced Mayo Clinicclinicians and educators…Theywork on a daily basis with Webcontent producers and editors toensure that all content isaccurate, clear and relevant.Specialty medical editors…workwith our editorial staff to bring youtimely, relevant and accurateinformation and tools.”
  14. 14. “MayoClinic.com maintains adistinct separation betweenadvertising content and editorialcontent. All advertising content onMayoClinic.com…is clearlylabeled as an advertisement.Sponsored areas of the site arelabeled as such, and thesponsoring organizations areidentified.”
  15. 15. Thank you! Please call Christine at 410-550-0681 or email her at ccaufie1@jhmi.edu if you have any questions

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