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Outreach @ the Bird Library: Evaluation Tips

Consult this guide for a list of outreach services provided by the Bird Health Sciences Library, helpful hints for evaluating health information resources, and some favorite web sites providing free, authoritative health information for consumers.

MEDLINEPLUS GUIDE TO HEALTHY WEB SURFING

Consider the tips below when you are evaluating the quality of health information web sites.

TIP #1

Consider the source - Use recognized authorities

  • Know who is responsible for the content
  • Look for an "about us" page
  • Check to see who runs the site

TIP #2

Focus on quality - All web sites are not created equal

  • Does the site have an editorial board?
  • Is the information reviewed before it is posted?

TIP #3

Be a cyberskeptic - Quackery abounds on the web

  • Use caution if the site uses a sensational writing style (lots of exclamation points, for example)
  • A health web site for consumers should use simple language, not technical jargon
  • Get a second opinion by checking more than one site

TIP #4

Look for the evidence - Rely on medical research, not opinion

  • Does the site identify the author?
  • Does it rely on testimonials?

TIP #5

Check for currency - Look for the latest information

  • Look for dates on documents

TIP #6

Beware of bias - What is the purpose? Who is providing the funding?

  • Check to see if the site is supported by public funds, donations, or commercial advertising
  • Advertisements should be labeled

TIP #7

Protect your privacy - Health information should be confidential

  • Does the site have a privacy policy and do they tell you what information they collect?

TIP #8

Consult with your health professional - Patient/provider partnerships lead to the best health care decisions

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION