How do you know if health information is valid and comes from a trusted source?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many things that we must ask ourselves in order to determine whether health information is valid and trustworthy.  Let us look at three of the most important things.

One thing to ask is whether the provider of the information is truly well-positioned to know a lot about the particular issue.  For example, if you are looking about information on heart health, you should assume that a site kept by a dermatologist is necessarily valid.  Instead, you would want to look at a specialist’s site or at the site of an association that is concerned with heart health.

Another thing to ask is whether the author of the information has something to gain by putting forward a particular point of view.  This is the sort of thing that you would need to worry about, for example, when looking at the site of a drug company or of a surgeon who performs the sort of operation that you are thinking of having.  If you are wondering whether a specific treatment or procedure is a good idea, it is generally not safe to assume that a source is valid if it has an interest in selling you on that treatment or procedure.

Finally, it is important to ask if the information has been vetted by any disinterested organization.  If you are looking at a drug company’s site, it is important to ask if the information given or the claims made have been approved by the relevant government agencies.  You might ask if a claim that you see as been published in an article in a peer-reviewed journal.   

By asking these sorts of questions, you can be more likely to find health information that is valid and trustworthy.