Searching the Internet is harder than
ever and finding health information you can trust on the Internet can be a
challenge. This quick video will give you tips and tricks on searching for health
information online and to better evaluate the information that you find,
Let’s first talk about Google. Google searches through algorithm or problem
solving operations and search engine optimizations or SEOs. SEOs are a
methodology of strategies or techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of
visitors to a website performed through algorithms. This is a lot, but basically the
important thing to realize is that companies and websites can create SEOs
that push their websites to the top of your Google search,
sometimes through paying money. This means that the first page on your Google
search is not always the most reliable and relevant and accurate, especially
concerning health information and research. So what can you do to find
reliable health information online? The ABCD test can help evaluate websites.
Standing for authority, balance and bias, currency, and documentation. A is for
authority, meaning does the author have credentials related to the topic. B is
for balance or bias so looking carefully at the people or organizations
responsible for a website. Are they selling something? Is there mention of
sponsorships? C is for currency such as when was this information created or
updated? If you cannot find this information, that’s a red flag.
And lastly D is for documentation, which information sources were used in
creating this resource? Are there suggestions for more reading or support
for their claims? Let’s quickly apply the ABCD test to a health website that I
find on Google. Let’s say I’m having trouble sleeping.
I’m going to Google “getting better sleep.” The first thing that pops up is a WebMD
“20 tips for better sleep” slideshow, so let’s look at this. You can see here that
this website has ads, which infers sponsorships. If we look at the authority,
the author is an MD so that is a good thing. It was written in 2016 so it’s
pretty current. If you scroll to the bottom it does list sources, so it does
provide documentation, but it also gives us a warning that this tool does not
provide medical advice and when you click on it it recommends getting
medical advice over trusting WebMD, which is always recommended when looking at
health information on the Internet. Let’s scroll down to about WebMD to learn more
about WebMD. So you can see from the “About Section” that the content is edited
by a senior staff and editorial team of doctors and medical writers, with many of
them having an MD and medical writing experience. This is great! Now let’s also
look at their advertising policy. Clicking on this we can see that they do
allow advertising and that they have many rules for their advertisers but
they also state that the advertiser is responsible for the accuracy and
objectivity of their advertising. So overall the information in this
article is not wrong: it’s reviewed by medical professionals and written by an MD,
but we also have to look at the balance of the article knowing the WebMD uses
and accepts advertisers. When looking for easy to understand
information about health and wellness MEDLINEPlus is a great resource.
MEDLINEPlus is the National Institute of Health’s website for patients and
their families and friends. Produced by the National Library of Medicine, it’s
the world’s largest medical library and it brings you information about diseases
conditions and wellness issues in language you can understand. You can
search the top of MEDLINEPlus for “sleep” and then you can look through
their recommendations for sleep disorders, sleep apnea,
healthy sleep, and more. These entries are all written with patients in mind.
Overall remember that you have a librarian that can help you with source
evaluation research and more, though for most health and wellness issues be sure
to consult a medical professional. Remember to always consult the library
website. You can also go to your “Research Guides by Subject” and find guides for
your course and for your subjects and health topics and more. On these guides
and also on the library webpage remember that you can chat with a librarian. Icons from Iconfinder: https://www.iconfinder.com/. Music by A. A. Alto, Balloon’s Rising from Free Music Archive: http://freemusicarchive.org/

UNCG Libraries: Evaluating Health Information on the Internet
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