In regards to researching health information on the internet; it’s ok to look. The problem for most of us is that it’s difficult to discern which health information is credible and which is not. So, instead of telling the doctor, and looking foolish, people err on the side of caution and skip that treatment room discussion. If you can identify with feeling, you are not alone. A study found at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) there are nearly 580 million internet surfers and of that 60 % to 80% have used the internet to collect health information. For today’s patient, it’s not uncommon to get health information from the internet. Having the confidence to discuss the information with your provider simply comes with the ability to ascertain which information is reliable and up to date and what is not. Healthcare professionals understand that today’s patient often reaches for the web before an office visit. Contrary to randomly hearing something and bringing it up to the doctor; write it down. Clinicians want their patients to be more forthcoming and less uncomfortable to openly discuss their findings.
With a little vetting, filtering the good and the bad is easy to do.
MedlinePlus provided an outstanding article for revving up your health research skills and click here for the National Library of Medicine video tutorial. When researching you must consider the source. When you land in the most interesting article, look at its surroundings. Focus on the quality of the site and be skeptical. Things that sound too good to be true often it often is. The FDA alerts of how to distinguish scams quickly. You want current, unbiased information. The quickest way to do this is a check the “about us” page to see who runs it and verify if the site is a branch of the government (.gov), a university (.edu), a health organization, a hospital or a business.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Does the site have an editorial board?
Is the information reviewed before it is posted?
Does the information favor the sponsor?
Does the site make unbelievable claims?
Do they want your information, and if so, what will they do with it?
Why are you bringing this information to your healthcare professional?
This could be anything from a specialist or commercial that you saw on tv to the medication you found in an insert of your magazine. Either way, having this information ready and researched will show your provider that you are truly interested in the information that you found and will respect their insight.
Upon writing Patient Better, most of the material (with a few exceptions) are found on these websites.
National Library of Medicine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration
World Health Organization
Center for Medicare Medicaid Services