How do I find credible health information?

“How to lose 7lbs in 7 days!” “The 10 healthiest foods!” “Blast 500 calories in 20 minutes with this move!”

Sound familiar? If you have access to internet, magazines, or watch any television, this information is all over. Do you ever read/hear one thing, and then several weeks later hear something totally contraindicating? I sure do! Well in this blog post I am going to help you learn how to find and evaluate credible health information.

DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ– regardless of where you find the information. Obviously, there are more credible sources (peer-reviewed medical journals) than others (Wikipedia or other websites). However, learning to read information with critical thinking skills and an inquiring mind set is a very valuable skill to have! In other words, every time you read something health or wellness related, ask yourself these questions:

“Who wrote this information?” Look for the authors name and credentials. If the credentials are missing, consider this a red flag!

“Can I find who sponsored the website or information?” Sponsorship is important because it helps establish the site as respected and dependable. Is it a government agency, educational institution, or other professional organization?

“How current is the information?” The information or website should be updated frequently. You can usually find the “last updated” date at the bottom of the page.

“Is this factual information or someone’s opinion?” Factual information should be supported with the primary information source such as professional literature and research. You don’t necessarily need to go back and read all of the support research, but just know where it is coming from.

“Are they just trying to sell their products?”
Another red flag! Even if nothing is being sold directly on the web site, ask yourself if the site host has an interest in promoting a particular product or service.

Finding credible health information can seem a bit overwhelming at times, even for a health professional. But again- it is such an important skill to have! Whether you are searching for information for yourself, your family members, friends, etc., I encourage everyone to dive in and learn! Ask questions. Educate yourself. Ask more questions. Seek out the experts. Don’t be afraid to do your own research and take that information and additional questions to your healthcare provider, college health professionals, librarians, or just begin by chatting about it with your friends and family. Knowledge is so powerful and your health and wellness depends on it!

Lastly, to get you started, here is a list of some credible health information websites:
•Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
•Healthfinder®, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
•Mayo Clinic
•MEDEM: an information partnership of medical societies
•MedlinePlus or PubMed: health related research articles
•NOAH: New York Online Access to Health

P.S. I included my name and credentials for you! I know you were searching for them 😉
Brittany K, RN, DNP-s
SWATeam Peer Educator
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire