While it is now simpler than ever to get health information, it may be difficult to determine which sources are credible and which are providing inaccurate or intentionally false information. That is why it is important to determine if the information you discover online is genuine and trustworthy.
Questions to ask when looking for health information online
When looking for information online, it’s important to ask yourself these four questions to make sure the information is reliable:
- Who created this information? While the Internet makes it easy for us to find answers to questions, it is important to remember that anyone can post information on the Internet. When browsing a website or app, pay attention to who wrote the information and whether they are an expert on the topic.
- When was this information written and when was it last updated? Health information changes frequently, so it’s important to check when it was last updated. Reliable websites indicate the date or year of publication or details of the last update of the information. A recent date indicates that the website is up and running and updating its information. While earlier dates do not mean the information is incorrect, it may indicate that more recent information could be found elsewhere.
- Why is this information published? Individuals and organisations may have different reasons for posting information online. While some may want to provide you with reliable information, such as educational information, others may want to convince you to buy something or do something that can benefit them. A reliable website will not try to get you to buy something. Look for websites that just share information.
- Where did this information come from? Sometimes friends or loved ones we trust may share health information online, but that information may not come from a reliable, verified source or be based on scientific facts and evidence. Therefore, it is very important to check where the information came from. While people may share their opinions online with good intentions, it is important to base your health decisions on scientific and reliable information to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
Where to start
The OpenMD Mental Health Directory is a good starting point for finding mental health information online. The physician-reviewed directory includes a number of resources for authoritative information on psychological disorders and treatments.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.