Having round-the-clock access to high-quality health information can help you take control of your health and discover ways to live well. But fake or misleading health information can be scaremongering and even dangerous. It’s not always easy to know who to trust when searching for health information online. And fake news often spreads faster than the truth. You might even like, share or act on misinformation without realising.
So how can you make sure that the health information you’re reading online is trustworthy, reliable and accurate? Ask yourself these four questions, to find the facts, stop misinformation and spot fake health news.
1. Who is it coming from?
Start by asking yourself if the information has come from a credible source. Look at who the author is and if the right experts have helped to produce the information. Then look for an accreditation or mark of quality, such as the Patient Information Forum tick. This is only awarded to organisations who follow high quality standards when producing health information.
2. Where have the facts come from?
Make sure any claims are backed up by high-quality sources. Trustworthy organisations will be open about how they produced their information. Many will also include a list of sources so you can check where their facts came from and find out more.
3. When was it produced?
Check when the information was published or updated. Medical research is constantly evolving, so information should be dated within the last three years or less.
4. What do I understand now?
Finally, the information should be clear, free from complex language, medical jargon, and spelling mistakes. The best providers of health information will do their best to untangle the science and make it as easy as possible for you to understand.
So next time you’re searching for health information online, protect yourself and others from harmful misinformation by asking: Who, where, when and what?