How to find credible information
As you may have discovered, entering a disease or medical condition into an online search engine can often result in thousands of hits. Here are a few tips for narrowing your search and for ensuring the information you find is reliable:
Ask a healthcare professional
Ask a doctor, social worker, counsellor or other healthcare professional for a recommendation. For example, ask what website offers the most accurate and credible information regarding your family member’s condition or situation.
Use the advanced search
Try combining words or terms. For example, instead of “cancer” which is very broad, try entering the type of cancer, such as “pancreatic cancer”. You can also try entering something specific, like “cancer chemotherapy + Canada” or “equipment for people with ALS in Ontario”.
Check to see who is sponsoring the content
Sponsorship is important because it helps establish if the site and its content is credible. The web address itself can provide information about the nature of the site and the sponsor’s intent.
- Look for websites that have a national, Canadian focus. For example, cancer.ca, alzheimer.ca, and als.ca are all credible and reliable websites.
- Some commercial sites, identified by .ca or .com, might be sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. Many commercial websites have valuable and credible information, but be aware that they may also want to promote their products.
- Check the “About Us” section of the website; review the organization’s mission, values and history,
Use social media with caution
Social media by its very nature is more about connecting and sharing thoughts, feelings and opinions. When seeking credible medical information, only follow social media from reputable sources. Many trusted organizations have social media accounts that link to their websites. For example, the Ontario Caregiver Organization has an official Facebook and Instagram page.