Not every online medical article or tip published on the Internet is based on medical fact. Any Internet user can start a blog or website and publish information about medical topics like illness, disease and treatment. Having the ability to write a concise Internet article is not the same as writing a factual piece of medical advice. Before reading one word of any Internet article, scan over the piece to weed out bad online medical information.
Where is the article published?
Look at the URL bar in the browser. Write down the words or letter before the .com, .org, .edu, .gov or other website type. This is the domain name. The domain name indicates where the online medical information is published. Trusted names include Mayo Clinic, WebMD and Yahoo! Health. Websites ending in .edu and .gov qualify as an educational or government website and may be more accurate than .com or .org, websites.
If the URL or article address is very long, click on the URL bar and hit the “Home” key on the computer keyboard. Use the right arrow to move to the end of the main website address and copy the address. For instance, if the web address reads, “http://www.articleaboutmedicine.com/an-important-article-you-should-read.html”, copy “http://www.articleaboutmedicine.com”. Visit the main website address to find out more about the website and authors.
Are reliable resources used to support medical information?
Any online author can claim garlic cures cancer, but where did that information originate? The source of medical information and advice is noted in reliable online medical articles. The resource used to compile the article can be noted as an in-line resource or at the end of the article in a dedicated reference section. In-line resources are highlighted with hyperlinks. Hover the mouse over the hyperlink and read the URL where the link leads. Alternatively, click on the hyperlink to visit the resource. If a dedicated reference section is included at the end of the article, look for reliable resources like .edu and .gov websites.
Does the author have any prior medical experience?
Author biographies tell a lot about who is providing the information. Some articles list an author name with a hyperlink to more information or articles from that author. Visit the biography page and look for previous medical training or experience. If the online medical information is published without an author name, look for an “About Us” page. The “About Us” page will give information on the creators or the website.
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