Chances are you are 1 of the 80% of people who search the Internet for health information. I recommend that you proceed with caution in doing that, if you have not yet been to see your doctor. It’s important that you see your doctor regarding any new health concern so that you can be properly diagnosed. You diagnosing yourself can lead to far more trouble than just taking the time to go see your doctor. To that point, do you have a primary care doctor? If not, make it your priority to find one AND build a relationship.
Now with my public service announcement out of the way, let’s look at how to find the most credible health information available online. You’ll want to access these sites to gather information about the condition your doctor diagnosed you with. You can find treatment options, diagnostic tests, symptoms of the condition, ways to manage the condition and more. The Medical Library Association (MLA) has created a handy and informative guide that names the top ten most useful consumer health websites. They also share some wonderful guidelines on how to evaluate the content.
My short list of go-to websites:
Mayo Clinic – Our mission is to empower people to manage their health. We accomplish this by providing useful and up-to-date information and tools that reflect the expertise and standard of excellence of Mayo Clinic. A team of Web professionals and medical experts working side by side produces this site. Through this unique collaboration, we give you access to the experience and knowledge of the more than 3,700 physicians, scientists and researchers of Mayo Clinic.
MedLine Plus – is the National Institutes of Health’s Web site for patients and their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand. MedlinePlus offers reliable, up-to-date health information, anytime, anywhere, for free.
The Family Doctor – is operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a national medical organization representing more than 105,900 family physicians, family practice residents and medical students. All of the information on this site has been written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals at the AAFP.
KidsHealth – is more than just the facts about health. As part of The Nemours Foundation’s Center for Children’s Health Media, KidsHealth also provides families with perspective, advice, and comfort about a wide range of physical, emotional, and behavioral issues that affect children and teens.
For specialty information:
I often look at “American College” websites. The various american college websites are home to the professional organizations for physcians. On these sites you can find information about the specialty, diseases and conditions, treatment options, procedures, journal articles on research, and consensus and opinion on preferred treatment choices. There is likely a college for every specialty of medicine and this is not an exhaustive list. To locate other american college websites not listed here, use Google to search “American College of insert specialty here.
American College of Physicians (Internal Medicine)
You may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned WebMD yet. I think they do a thorough job covering health topics by providing the following categories for almost every condition imaginable: overview & facts, symptoms & types, diagnosis & tests, treatment & care, living & managing, support & resources. I use the site. However, it’s only fair to note that WebMD is heavily dependent on advertisement to sponsor content. There have been allegations of bias towards pharmaceutical companies, meaning that some of their content is designed to steer you towards certain drugs. Unbiased health information is most credible.
So what do you think of this list? Are there any health information sites that you frequent that I haven’t mentioned?
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— Meredith Hurston MHA (@meredithhurston) April 29, 2013