The moment a person needs health information, the inclination is to Google it, even though there are much better places to visit — places that offer high-quality and reliable health information. A Google search does not guarantee good quality information — especially when it comes to health information, and due to sponsored advertisements and what I call pseudo health websites, a search may actually send a searcher in a wrong direction. Moreover, these days television ads, infomercials, and online ads seek to grab and hold people’s attention, and it’s difficult to figure out what’s a good source and what’s bad.
The good health information issue becomes even more critical for aging parents and elders, who often have many health concerns. Each day pharmaceutical advertisements and self-improvement ads bombard older adults with sales info disguised as health support. When they do Google searches, they encounter carefully groomed advertisements that may swoop in and look trustworthy. It can be difficult for a person of any age to tell what information is really useful and what information is just trying to get attention … and money.
Recently I’ve discovered a helpful resource, Trust It or Trash It, an interactive online tool that aims to guide users through a process, encouraging them to ask questions and to make judgments about the quality of the information. This resource is so good and so easy that individuals of all ages should bookmark the site or make a desktop shortcut to access it.
The first page at the site posts three questions. By clicking on any of the questions, the user can delve more deeply and learn more about how to evaluate by asking more questions. The point of the site is to answer qualitative inquiries and guide a user toward a determination of quality — should this information be trusted or trashed? If an individual is not satisfied with initial findings, Trust It or Trash It offers the opportunity to ask more questions and investigate further.
Not infrequently I speak to elders who have found something online, usually health information, that they think is reliable — just because it’s from the Internet. So many people have yet to understand that the Internet contains all sorts of into — good, bad, and extremely ugly.