The Internet is currently one of the most used and highly accessible sources for information on almost any topic of interest. This resource is often used because it allows the user to find information at his own convenience, such as in his home and at his own time. Here are some criteria that Tresca (2009) has suggested for your use of the Internet for healthcare information: 1. Check the author or organization of the website. The most reliable websites for healthcare information are those created by groups of physicians and scientists, such as WebMD and the National Institutes of Health.
2. Compare information among websites. It is best to compare the content of one website to another in order to determine accuracy and validity of healthcare information. 3. Determine frequency of update of the website. Websites that are maintained by medical professionals constantly update the content of their site, as research reports continuously come in. A website that was last updated in 2006 or earlier may not be very reliable. 4. Identify any bias in the website.
If a certain website mentions a certain brand-name drug in their website, then most likely this site was created by entrepreneurs and not medical doctors. A reliable website will only provide information on a disease or symptom, but not promote any specific brand of medication. 5. Exercise good judgment when reading the content of a website. It is best to exercise caution when reading any descriptions on websites. Remember that whatever is written in the site is an advice, yet you are still the sole person to decide whether an action is helpful or not.
Let us now take an example of a scenario. An individual suffered from a simple fall and twisted his ankle. After a few hours, his ankle still felt sore and some swelling had already started. The individual started to worry whether he only suffered a sprained ankle or if he fractured his ankle. The fastest and easiest thing he thought he could do was to check on the Internet and find a healthcare website for more information on his injury. The individual thus used the search engine Google and typed in the word “ankle injury.
” Google then showed thousands of results, with around 10 websites in every page. He checked each suggested website and started reading the information posted. After looking through a couple of websites on ankle injury, the individual chose one website that he felt carried accurate and reliable information. The bases of his choice were mainly the five criteria that were listed in the previous page. The website chosen was the Orthopedics section of the About. com website, located at http://orthopedics. about. com/cs/sprainsstrains/a/anklesprain. htm.
The site provided a comprehensive description of an ankle sprain, including the causes of this condition and the associated symptoms. The website also provided a description of the kinds of ankle sprains based on how severe the ankle was injured (Cluett, 2007). This website also provided information on how to determine if medical attention is immediately needed, or whether home treatment will be fine. The website’s description on ankle injuries was also written by a medical doctor and the reputation of About. com is good, hence it seems that this website can be trusted.
The website also suggested that the best method of verifying an ankle injury is to see the doctor. The site also provided a link to a list of physicians in different cities in the United States, as well as other reliable websites that also provide information on ankle sprains. An example of a highly unreliable website is http://yucky. discovery. com/flash/body/yuckystuff/anklesprain/js. index. html, which mainly described an ankle injury that was simply for children’s use and reading. The website also did not provide any additional information that enumerated the causes and types of ankle injuries.
It is thus very important that caution and proper judgment is used when looking for healthcare information on the internet. Reference Cluett J (2007): Ankle sprain. In: Your guide to orthopedics. Downloaded from http://orthopedics. about. com/cs/sprainsstrains/a/anklesprain. htm on May 22, 2009. http://yucky. discovery. com/flash/body/yuckystuff/anklesprain/js. index. html Tresca, A. J. (2009). Using the internet for reliable health information: Do you know how to find accurate information? Downloaded from http://ibdcrohns. about. com/cs/activismandibd/a/aa051903. htm on May 22, 20