Health information is everywhere. In the course of any normal day, people are exposed to sound bites on the radio and television, articles in magazines and newspapers, and the Internet. The quality of the information varies widely, so users are left wondering how to recognize good information from bad. Often, information is presented on web sites that make money by advertising or selling products. Information might be outdated, inaccurate or from a source with questionable motives. Some web sites intentionally include designs that mimic authoritative sites, with the intention of building trust for a product or service. For some topics, these issues might not be as important, but the implications for inaccurate health information are high. In order to make good decisions about health, patients and caregivers need quality information.
When evaluating health information, here are some questions to ask:
Who is the author or source?
Look for authoritative, knowledgeable sources.
Is it accurate?
Look for evidence of truth and reliability of the information.
What is the purpose?
Sometimes information is provided as a way to sell something, rather than to provide quality information.
Is the content relevant and appropriate?
Consider the audience and the relevancy to the information need.
Is the information current?
Health information can become outdated quickly, so currency is important.
The list above is based on the CRAAP Test, developed by the Meriam Library at the California State University, Chico.www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf