Rising concerns warrant new strategies to evaluate questionable health information. The internet is gaining popularity as a go to health information source, with upwards of 70 percent of internet users researching health information online within a given year, according to the Pew Research Center. Search results include excellent, trustworthy information that is often mixed with exaggerated health claims and miraculous personal accounts that aren’t backed up by facts.
In a new and enlightening article released by Fox news, expert Elizabeth Renter addresses the problem, saying “With so many sources of online health information, it’s easy to fall for exaggerated health claims, poorly explained medical research or guidance that’s just plain wrong.” She explains that some people are likely ““being misled by well-intentioned bloggers, social media health gurus and sometimes even mainstream media.” Renter is passionate about helping people avoid health scams and advises people to simply “wade through the muck” and use “critical thinking” to protect against being misled by following these quick tips to avoid online health scams:
1. Go to the Source behind the information to find the purpose of the content and evaluate whether there is an unbiased agenda.
2. Check the author’s qualifications for the information reported on the site for credibility and authority.
3. Evaluate personal claims by researching conflicting and supporting evidence from other sources.
4. Dig into the sources where the recommendations and advice come from to look for evidence to back it up.
5. Look at the date of the information to evaluate the validity of studies or trials. Remember — “older” news does equal untrue; quality of the information is what matters.
6. Don’t stop at simply reading the good news about a product or claim, learn about the possible risks or harm involved.
7. Look at the whole picture of health claims or opinions and look for costs, possible drawbacks, or conflicting evidence.