What makes a source reliable and credible?

How to Find Dependable Sources of Health Information

As Isaac Newton once said, “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” When researching health questions, it can often feel like simple questions can quickly become convoluted. There are so many websites and sources available today that it is easy to become confused. A good way to eliminate uncertainty is to establish what makes a source reliable and credible. However, if you keep the following tips in mind, you can create an arsenal of solid information.

Know What to Look For in a Source

A positive source of health information is one that is free, direct, and unbiased. Look for material where the writer is a medical professional who has a respectable education and credentials. Publications from universities or legitimate research institutes can also be valuable. Try to find information that is peer-reviewed, which means the data has been read and approved by knowledgeable researchers and experts. On the other hand, information found on an internet forum or social media is usually not very dependable; treatments that work for one person may not work for everyone, since every person has different health needs.

Avoid Warning Signs

Once you feel you have found a useful source, look at the material critically. Many writers or bloggers these days have secret agendas to either sell products or deliberately mislead readers. If the information you find has no author listed or the publisher seems untrustworthy, feel free to disregard it. Check the date of publication as well, because there may be recent scientific developments that render older research obsolete. Also, information that claims miraculous results is usually not reliable. Any claims ought to be easily backed up by scientific research.

Consult Your Primary Care Physician

When in doubt about the credibility of a source, trust that you can ask your primary care physician or GP (general practitioner) any questions. He or she should be able to not only resolve your concerns either through their knowledge or referral to a specialist, but also tell you which information sources you can rely on in the future. Most doctor’s offices also provide pamphlets and brochures with valuable information, so make sure to ask your healthcare professional for one.

Though it can seem overwhelming to take control of your health concerns, it can be useful to keep simplicity at the forefront of your mind. Write down your questions, consider information with a skeptical eye and bring your queries to a trusted physician. The more you practice researching, the better you can become at judging the dependability of a source.

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