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5 Internet Search Tips for Reliable Medical Information

The House Call Doctor has 5 easy tips to help you search for reliable sources of medical information on the internet.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
October 11, 2012
Episode #078

Page 2 of 2

 

Tip #2:  Find the Source

Always ask yourself, “Who is writing this article?”  Is it written by a physician or an expert in the field?  More than likely, it’s not.  Many magazines and online medical articles are written by journalists with a “focus” in health – what does this mean, exactly?  Is their educational background sufficient enough to be giving medical advice?  Doctors complete a minimum of 11 years of schooling to do what they do.  Is a 6 month course in “health” sufficient to advise you on your heart condition? I don’t think so.

Tip #3:  Be Wary of Headlines

Remember: the ultimate goal of the news, magazines, and many websites is to sell.  The more frightening and controversial their writing, the more money they make.  So before you buy into anything you read or see, ask yourself if the source is reliable  for the type of information you are seeking?  For example, Vogue magazine can certainly comment on the latest Prada collection, but is it really a reliable authority on medical topics?

Tip #4:  Research the Article’s Sponsors

Is the writer affiliated with an entity who wants to sell you a product?  Does the author work for a pharmaceutical company?  What are they trying to sell you?  The source should be completely unbiased for the information to be considered reliable.  Otherwise, be wary…very wary.

Tip #5:  What You Are Reading is One-Dimensional

The internet cannot solve complex medical problems that require a background of experience and human reasoning.  The computer cannot perform a physical exam, or feel your level of pain, anxiety, or whatever it may be.  Medicine is very complex, and not always cut and dry.  Typing a list of symptoms into a web-based diagnosis program is not the same as seeing your health professional. Trust your doctor.  And if you don’t, find one you do trust.

If you can keep the above tips in mind while perusing the internet, you can make better and more well-informed decisions regarding your health.  After all, it’s your health – nothing to take lightly or to mess with. One small incorrect decision can be potentially fatal.  Again, this is why doctors go to school for so long – let us be your guide.  Feel free to peruse and search, but ask your doctor for their opinion on the matter before you convince yourself of anything.

Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only.  This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider.  Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

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Woman searching on Computer image courtesy of Shutterstock

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