Assessing Health-Related Web Sites

“Many Web sites offer helpful, legitimate health-related information. But some Web sites present myths as facts, suggest unproven methods as miraculous cures, or offer opinions rather than scientific evidence. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.”

(Adapted from the American Cancer Society, 2005)

Consider the following when assessing Web sites:

  • Is the site credible? The most reliable sources are major organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, government agencies, hospitals or universities.
  • What are the author’s credentials (MD, RN, Social Worker, etc.?)
  • Is the information current?
  • Is information accurate and based on scientific data?
  • Are there references from scientific journals?
  • Information should be balanced, giving the pros and cons of subject.
  • Is the purpose of the Web site clear?
  • Is the site selling a product or service?
  • Is it clear when links lead you away form the original site?
  • Are links on the site appropriate to the subject matter, or unrelated?
  • Do links sell products or services?
  • Is the information arranged logically and easy to navigate?
  • Is there a way to search the site?
  • Is it possible to effectively interact with others?
  • Is there a way to contact or send feedback to the author?
  • If there is a chat room, is there a moderator, and what are the moderator’s credentials?

For more information on evaluating Web sites, visit the Health on the Net Foundation at: www.hon.ch