Evaluating Where Your Health Information Comes From
Evaluating where your health information comes from is important for many different reasons. Your health information should come from a reliable and credentialed source. You should know who funded the research that went into the information you are evaluating.
In today’s digital age of instant access to volumes of information, it can be overwhelming to try to discern whether or not information you come across has been researched by qualified health providers and researchers. Now, more than ever, it is important to identify the source of health information that might be relevant to you and your situation. As interesting and good as health information might seem, if it doesn’t come from a reliable source you should not be using it to determine things about your own health. Some things to think about are whether or not a particular source you are reading is likely to be fair, objective and lacking in hidden motives.
When you come across health information that appears valid, a good thing to do is to find out the credentials of the source of the information, to help you determine whether the author or organization has the required expertise, training, and credentials, they should have to provide this kind of information. Publications in professional journals and other reliable forms of print information may be more credible when there is a medical institution such as a hospital, medical school, or government health agency that endorses the information you are interested in.
Health information from non-government organizations and non-profits can be reliable but it can also be slanted towards the motives of those that funded the research for the health information.
It adds credibility when publications have undergone peer review by professionals in the field. Contact information for the author or publisher of health information also adds credibility to the information.
Some URLs or web addresses are considered to be more reliable than others. The explanation of the following address endings may help when you are trying to evaluate health information on the web:
.com A web address ending in .com belongs to a for-profit company or entity.
.edu A web address that ends in .edu means that it’s source is supposed to be from higher education institutions such as colleges and universities.
.gov A web address that ends in .gov is supposed to signify that the web page is backed by a government organization.
.net A web address ending in .net belongs to a for-profit company or entity.
.org A web address ending in .org is supposed to belong to a nonprofit organization.
While these addresses are typically true to their meaning, nowadays, some organizations and companies have managed to have addresses that imply they are a nonprofit or other kind of entity. An example of this is when a for profit company, business or service has a .org in their address when they are not a non-profit..
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