Health Dot Com - Tips for Accessing Health Information Online
August 27, 2012
Copays and premiums and bills, oh my! Some health care services may be expensive but health information shouldn’t have a price tag. So what happens when you just want the answer to a simple question? Whether there wasn’t enough time during an appointment, you forgot to ask your doctor, or your next check-up isn’t for a while, there are options to get the answers you need.
Many of us get a second—or first—opinion from Dr. Google, which may lead to incorrect or unreliable information. And while there’s nothing wrong with getting health information online, it’s important to make sure it is correct!
“But I don’t know the answer to begin with so how can I know if it’s correct?”
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Where is the information coming from? Anyone can buy a website ending in .com and write whatever information they want. If the website ends with .edu, .gov or .org their information is more reliable because it comes from academic institutions (colleges or universities), the government or non-profit groups (respectively).
- Who wrote the information? If no one (person or organization) is listed (and you're not on a trusted website), that may be a bad sign. If someone is listed but they aren’t a medical professional (like a doctor, nurse, or nutritionist), you may want to think twice about taking medical advice from them.
(Actually, you should never take medical advice online - you can access health information and resources online, but always make sure you speak to your provider about your own treatment or care.)
- Why was the article/web page created? If there are a lot of ads for medicines or private companies, the page may be selling these products or services which could make them biased.
Here are some websites we recommend:
What if you’re still not sure whether the information you get online is trustworthy? Or perhaps you’d just prefer to talk to someone in person that can tell you what you need to know in a way that you can understand. Seeking out community health education programs is a great way to do this and there are many options throughout the Pacific Northwest.
At Swedish, we have a comprehensive menu of health education classes that are free or low-cost. Visit our Community Health Education website to find out about upcoming classes on topics from parenting and childbirth, to nutrition, exercise and hot health topics. Swedish offers classes year-round at all campuses.
Still have questions or need more health information? Call the Community Health Education Department at (206) 386-2502.
Ed. note: You can also find health information throughout the rest of the Swedish site and blog. If you're looking for a specific topic, check out the menu of tags in the sidebar on the right of the blog, and you can also always search in the top right hand corner from any page here on Swedish.org