Health Tools

Evaluating Web Resources

What should I look for in a website/online source?


We understand that deciding what information to trust online might be a difficult task. While a lot of information is available on media platforms and on websites, not all of it is factually correct. Misinformation can be harmful for your and your family’s health, so it is important to be able to look for signs of credible sources. Listed below are some tips that can help you with your online search:


1. It’s important to pay attention to how you came across the website. Did you google a topic or did another website ask you to click a link?

Good:

This information is written, reviewed and regularly updated by health experts and can be trusted.

Be careful of:

  • Websites that appear as advertisements in google
  • Websites that seem to be promoting a service or a product
  • Websites that promise a “see results fast” approach
  • Websites that ask you to provide your personal information and credit card information

While not all these websites are untrustworthy, you should always evaluate them more before sharing your personal information



2. Who was the information written by? This information can usually be found in the “about us” section of the website.

Good:

  • Websites written by authors and organizations you recognize.
  • Websites ending in: “.gov”, “.edu” or “.org”

While sites ending with these are generally credible, always evaluate them for authenticity. Authors who are professors, medical experts or scholars in the field are credible and trustworthy resources of information.

Be careful of:

  • Websites ending with: “.com”,”.net” or “.biz”
  • Authors who may be drawing from personal experiences without giving information about the resources they used to come up with the information

These websites may be promoting a business or providing information that is not based on research. Less reliable authors may not be clear on the subject matter, not be aware of the benefits/risks of a suggested tip and may provide you wrong guidance that can jeopardize your health.



3. Where can you find more information?

Good:

  • Websites that provide a source, bibliography or list of references, links to other .gov, .edu. or .org websites for the information they present.

Be careful of:

  • Websites that do not provide references, may be promoting a product or service, or have only positive customer reviews.



4. When was this information written?

Try to look for a date on the website article. Publications, such as books and articles will usually state the date the information was published.

Good:

  • Sources that have been written in the last 5 years, or are updated annually to reflect new changes in the field.

Be careful of:

  • Sources that have not been updated in a while or were written a while ago.

Information that is not up to date may no longer be accurate as there could be risks associated with that advice or there may be new information about new medications/diets/lifestyle changes.



5. How easy is it for you to use the website?

Good:

  • A website that is easy for you to use, keeps your information safe and secure and provides evidence-based recommendations.

Be careful of:

  • Websites that use language or techniques that are hard for you to understand because this may not be appropriate for you.

A website that is not easy to navigate, is not easy to understand and is not easy for you to use, will not be useful for you in your health journey.



If you are concerned about the advice suggested by a website, please contact your health care provider before implementing that advice. The advice presented on websites may be generalized, but a healthcare provider can assess whether that advice is right for your age, your other medications, your other medical conditions or your mobility needs. Never use a website to replace the expertise of your medical care practitioner.