The Internet has a lot of wonderful things, like funny cat photos and investigative journalism, to name a few. However, when you’re sick, the Internet can be a bit of a scary place. Do a search for “sinusitis,” and ten minutes later you’ll be watching a YouTube video of sinus surgery--you want to be an informed patient, but you also want to be able to sleep at night.
Bad Information: Scarier Than YouTube Surgery Videos
Finding reliable medical information online can be daunting – What’s trustworthy and what’s quackery? What’s fact and what’s opinion? Check out the MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing or the Medical Library Association’s User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web for detailed advice for how to evaluate medical information online.
Where Can I Always Find Good Health Information?
San Mateo County Library offers web-based resources that you can trust. Health and Wellness Resource Center has has a lot of quality information, along with a list of trusted sites and some health assessment tools; use the guided tour to get acquainted with the site.
Now That I Have Reliable Information . . .
Online research should not substitute for a visit to the doctor. The best thing you can do with the quality information you uncover in your health research is to discuss it with your doctor.
And speaking of your doctor--do some research on your physician too. Consumer’s Checkbook, an independent nonprofit, offers ratings for a range of Bay Area services, including doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. The Consumer’s Checkbook can only be accessed at a Library, but it’s better than Yelp because it offers ratings of doctors by patients and by other doctors.
Photo Credit: TheGiantVermin
Nicole Pasini has worked on library programs and collections for teens, children, and adults, and she knows better than to watch Surgery Saved My Life on the Discovery Channel.