Health Info on the Web — Be Careful! Part I

Just about every time I speak with people about health issues they refer to one Internet site or another. This worries me. Too many people are finding too much inaccurate virtual information. Older adult children like me as well as senior citizens are eagerly surfing the web for medical information, however, when we go off searching we need to analyze each site for accuracy and reliability.  The National Cancer Institute provides these tips for web users searching for medical information.

  • The greatest thing about the World Wide Web is the amount of medical information one has access to.
  • The worst thing about the World Wide Web is the amount of medical information one has access to.

A few years ago I had major surgery, with little time between learning of the problem and the surgery itself. I thought of looking on the web to learn about others’ experiences, but I decided not to. Although I wished I had even more information, I had a doctor I trusted, and there was not enough time to get everything  accomplished beforehand. Refraining was a great decision. Here’s why.

A week or so after the surgery I went online to learn more about recovering, and I found site after site filled with people seeking help. In general these people were unhappy about their surgeries, and they complained about all sorts of problems — problems they should have been taking to a physician or other health professional. The satisfied folks rarely posted comments. It’s my theory that the people who use these sites are frequently dissatisfied.

Moreover, many of these sites represent themselves as medical resources, but upon closer evaluation, they do not provide that much reliable information.

I worry most about web medical information in relation to my parents and other relatives. I’m concerned because seniors, as well as many of us, do not always get the whole picture or explanation from doctors the first time around. By the time good questions are formulated, it is difficult to reach the doc quickly. In this day and age of instant information, we are all eager to learn more as fast as possible so the Internet beckons. The Internet, with what seems like information we need, is persuasive.

In my next post I’ll provide evaluative questions to ask yourself about any site before using its content. Below are sites with reliable information.

Sites Related to Major Medical Institutions

Other Reliable Health Sites

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