Finding health information is easy. Finding reliable information can be challenging, however. Friends and family members offer health advice, you may overhear a conversation about a fad diet while waiting in line at the grocery store, or you might read an article on social media about some new superfood. How can you tell whether or not the information that you receive is reliable?
Knowing how to recognize a credible source and getting health facts from your doctor can help prevent misinformation.
According to a study released by Pew Research Center, 77 percent of American internet users search for health information using online search engines. People also share their personal experiences with conditions and health issues online, ask health questions on forums and social media sites, and seek health information from various online sources. While there are many great online sources for health information, there are also just as many unreliable sources.
Accurate and reliable health information isn’t always accessible. Health information can sometimes be too technical, too difficult to read, or require extra background knowledge that some readers may not have. If the reader can’t understand the information, they may seek information that’s easier to process. The most accessible health information is rarely the most reliable, however.
So how can you tell if the information that you find, read, or hear is accurate?Do your research and find out if health information is accurate. Your primary care doctor is a great resource for reliable health information. Click To Tweet
Examples of sources that have reliable health information:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Institutes of Health
- American Heart Association
- American Cancer Society
Websites from government or academic sources and national health organizations are usually more careful about checking information than a typical private blog. They will usually share the sources of their information and provide references so you can find more details on the topics they write about. These are good starting points when you’re looking for health information.
Examples of sources that may or may not have reliable health information:
- personal blogs
- social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram,and Pinterest
- anecdotes from friends or family members
This doesn’t mean that you can’t find trustworthy health information on Facebook, an online forum, or from a friend. However, it does mean that you should be more critical of health information that doesn’t have rigorous research standards.
When you find unusual claims or things “doctors don’t want you to know,” you owe it to yourself to put in a little time with Google making sure there are facts and expert sources for those claims.
As a general rule, you should always go a step further with health information. If you hear something in conversation, do some research. If you read a claim in a personal blog, see if you can find that information from a credible health site. The more sources that support that information, the more reliable that information is.
Don’t stop there, though. It’s fine to do your own research, but be sure to talk to your doctor. Write down any health questions that you have and share them with your doctor at your wellness exam. You can always call your doctor’s office.
Your doctor is your best resource for reliable health information
People are different, they have unique needs, and they respond to things in different ways. Good health advice for one person might not lead to a positive health outcome for another.
Your primary care provider should be your go-to resource for health information. Schedule an appointment with a doctor in Northwest Arkansas today.