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How to find reliable health information on the Internet
The number of health-related websites is growing every day. Although there is a lot of useful health information available on the Web, it is important to know that not all the information is reliable, accurate and unbiased. Some of it can be harmful.
This is why it is important for you to be able to identify reliable, quality health information sites.
Talk with your health care provider about the website
The information you find on the Web is a good way to start a discussion with your health care provider. Your provider can help you decide if the information you found applies to your situation.
Information you find on any website does not replace the medical advice of your health care provider. There is no substitute for a good relationship with him or her.
When looking at a website, use the following questions to help you decide if the site you are viewing is reliable. Even if you are comfortable with the answers to all of these questions, remember there is no guarantee that the information is reliable and accurate.
Site purpose and content
HONcode seal of approval
Look for the HONcode seal of approval on any medical- or health-related website you visit. The Health On the Net Foundation is a self-governing body that developed a code of ethical conduct, or code of "good behavior."
This seal of approval is intended to make sure readers know the source and purpose of the data presented. Only members in good standing can display the HONcode logo. Allina Health is a member of HON.
Understanding what type of website you found
Here are a few guidelines that can help you understand the different types of Web addresses.
Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, How to Find Reliable Health Information on the Internet, gen-ahc-11366
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 05/10/2011
Last Reviewed: 04/10/2011