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Q: What online health information sites do you recommend?
A: The number of online health-related information websites is overwhelming to say the least. Much of the information posted online is unreliable, outdated, or misleading.
The website address can provide some help in determining the accuracy of the information it contains.
For example, website addresses that end in “.gov” (government agencies), “.edu” (educational institutions) or “.org” (professional organizations) may be more reliable than those that end in “.com” — which are often trying to sell a product or service.
You can also try to check how current the information is by looking at the last revision date, usually located at the bottom of the website page.
Other useful clues to determine the validity of the information provided on a website include: is the name of the person/group who sponsors the website listed, is contact information (email, phone number, address, etc.) given, is your privacy protected, and does the website make claims that seem too good to be true?
Some online health information websites that can be recommended include:
+ American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org)
+ American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org)
+ American Heart Association (www.heart.org)
+ National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (www.nhlbi.nih.gov)
+ CDC (www.cdc.gov)
+ FDA (www.fda.gov)
+ American Academy of Family Physicians’ FamilyDoctor.org (www.familydoctor.org)
+ U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ healthfinder.gov (www.healthfinder.gov)
+ KidsHealth (www.kidshealth.org)
+ Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com)
+ National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus (www.medlineplus.gov)
If you have any questions regarding the information that you receive on a website, please discuss it with a health care professional before making any health-related decisions.
Richard P. Hoffmann, Pharm.D., has been a pharmacist for more than 40 years. Send questions to him at 2960 E. Coventry Court, Hernando, FL 34442.