Previous generations were cautioned “don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.” The Baby Boomer generation was taught “don’t believe everything you see on television.” The Millenium generation is learning “don’t believe everything you see on the internet.” Does that mean one should never search the internet for health information? No. But use caution and a healthy dose of skepticism. Below are some resources that may help.
Evaluating Internet Health Information: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine takes about 15 minutes and uses 2 fictitious web sites to illustrate the importance of knowing the provider and purpose , information quality, and privacy protections of health topic web sites. The tutorial has both slides and narration, and has user controls. This is a very basic tutorial, a good starting point.
Millions of Americans search for health information on the web every year. Whether the health information is needed for personal reasons or for a loved one, millions of health-related web pages are viewed by millions of consumers. Sometimes the information found is just what was needed. Other searches end in frustration or retrieval of inaccurate, even dangerous, information.
This guide has much more depth about evaluating health web sites. It also includes a section titled Deciphering Medspeak. There is a breast cancer specific “medspeak” brochure that may be downloaded free in .pdf format.
To make informed health decisions, you have probably read a newspaper or magazine article, tuned into a radio or television program, or searched the Internet to find answers to health questions. If so, you have probably encountered “medspeak,” the specialized language of health professionals. The Medical Library Association developed “Deciphering Medspeak” to help translate common “medspeak” terms.