When evaluating health topics on the internet check the
Evaluating sources for credibility
It is important to objectively assess the knowledge you find or hear from others for reliability and trustworthiness before using it to make health decisions. To assess the knowledge you find online or learn about from others, use the following criteria:
Examine the data for any perceived bias. Look for the information’s intended intent. There are several blogs dedicated to educating and informing people based on scientific evidence. Other websites or sources of knowledge may exist solely to promote a product or to promote a personal or political opinion that is not supported by scientific evidence. People who are afraid of being taken advantage of are more likely to be taken advantage of.
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Because of its 24-hour availability, presumed confidentiality for the health seeker, and abundance of knowledge available, the Web was found to be a highly common source for health information in a previous study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project published in 2000. At the time, 30% said they visited four or more websites on a regular basis. Though 82% expressed concern about accessing inaccurate information, 52% of those who used health websites claimed that “almost all” or “much” of the information they found on the Internet was accurate. Those under the age of 40 and with less formal education were more trusting of the health details they found. Seventy percent of those polled said the details affected their health decisions.
Two other research that were particularly interesting looked at consistency from the perspective of the consumer. Berland et al. (2001) looked for details on four common health conditions using English and Spanish-language search engines. Given that health consumers depend on search engines to find health information on a particular subject, this study highlighted the flaws in that approach. Search engines were only “moderately effective” in providing sites with relevant content on their first page of results, according to the findings. Expert panels then assessed the quality of coverage and material consistency of these lead pages. Just half of the issues considered relevant for a given health concern were covered more than minimally, with Spanish-language pages having even less coverage. The number of times the text was absolutely right for covered clinical elements ranged from 53% to 91 percent depending on the subject and language of the web. Furthermore, over half of the English-language sites contained contradictory information; no such discrepancies were found on the Spanish-language sites.
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Use our “Virtual Information Desk,” which you can find at the top of every page on our website by clicking on this icon, to get answers to popular questions or find your way around the hospital before and during your visit.
Of course, you can stop by our onsite main Information Desk, which is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends and holidays, at the Melnyk Entrance (off the Queensway). Please contact us at 416-530-6000.
While looking for health details on the Internet, you’ll sometimes come across thousands of websites and a large amount of unregulated data. When learning and/or searching for more information on a specific health subject, it’s crucial that you and your loved ones get accurate, reliable, and quality information.
To assess authorship, search for a logo on the website or go to the “about us” section. Look for materials produced by the government, ministries, public health, municipalities, hospitals, and educational institutions, among other sources.
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Finding health information has become easier and quicker as the Internet has increased in popularity. Although much of the information on the Internet is useful, it also allows for the rapid and widespread dissemination of false and misleading information. You should think about the source of knowledge you find on the Internet and talk to your healthcare provider about it. This fact sheet will assist you in determining what health information you find on the Internet or receive by email is likely to be trustworthy.