You just went to your healthcare provider to discuss your lab test results. They tell you that you have Type 2 diabetes, need to begin a new diet and exercise program, see a dietician, start on a new medication, get a blood sugar machine and monitor it daily and will need frequent follow up appointments until your blood sugar is stable…you are overwhelmed. You go home. You discuss this with your loved ones. You are scared. You decide to research diabetes online. You type in “diabetes” hit “search”, and thousands of websites pop up. Yikes! How do you know which ones have the best information?
Here are some guidelines for using the Internet to research health information (adapted from the Medical Library Association) :
• First clue is the web address – Credible websites generally end in .gov, .org, and .edu. Website ending in .com are commercial websites and generally are trying to sell you something! (One exception is mayoclinic.com which is their site specifically for health education. Their “.org” site goes to the Mayo Clinic’s list of services)
• Identify the website sponsor – click “about us” from the site menu. Does the site list advisory boards or consultants? Are their credentials relevant to the health topic?
• Be sure to check the the source and the date of the latest revision. You want credible sources and the most recent information.
• Check at least three or four sites to get a broader viewpoint.
• Skip content that is not sourced. Contact information should be on the site for validation.
• Choose factual, sourced information over anecdotal information, opinions or blogs
• Be very leery of a website that is trying to sell you a product. Their “research” could be biased, strictly anecdotal, and/or profit based. Especially if they claim miraculous cures that are too good to be true…because it could cost you plenty of time and money to that find out!
The top reliable health websites recommended in my Parish Nursing class, as well as by the National Institute on Aging, and the Medical Library Association are:
• medlineplus.gov – National Library of Medicine
• mayoclinic.com – Mayo Clinic’s health education site
• health.nih.gov – National Institute of Health
• CDC.gov – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• cancer.gov – National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health
• kidshealth.org – Center for Children’s Health Media
• nihseniorhealth.gov – Senior friendly website from the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine
• healthfinder.gov – Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
As your Parish Nurse, I am available to assist you in researching health topics!
Lori Nitchals, Parish Nurse
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