[Animation] How to find trustworthy health information

Luke James
Group Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Director of Healthcare Transformation
05 July 2021
Next review due July 2024

In today’s digital world, health information is very easy to access – it’s all there at the touch or tap of a button. But it can be difficult to know how trustworthy it is. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fake health news and information on the internet. This Health Information Week, I share some ways to check the information you’re using is trustworthy, reliable and accurate.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell a trustworthy website from an unreliable one. Here are four key signs you can look out for.

1. Who is it coming from?

Experts have helped produce it

Start by asking yourself if the information has come from a credible source. Check for signs of expert involvement – for example, a named doctor has written or reviewed the information. This shows that the information been checked by a relevant medical professional before being published.

The website has a quality mark

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?

High quality sources are easy to see

Many reputable websites will give details of the original sources that their facts come from, so you can see that the claims are based on good evidence. You can often find a list of sources at the bottom of the page or they are available on request. The sources should always be based on dependable research, such as large scientific studies or clinical guidelines, rather than personal blogs or newspaper articles.

The claims are backed up

Trustworthy organisations will be open about how they produce their information. For example, there may be an ‘About us’ section on the website that explains how the information is produced. Many will also include a list of other helpful websites where you can find more high-quality information.

3. When was it produced?

There’s a published date

Check when the information was published or updated. Check if there is a published or ‘last reviewed’ date on the page. Often, it’s a the top or bottom of the page.

The information is three years old or less

Ideally, the information should have been produced or updated within the last three years. Medical science and research are always moving forward, and the advice can change quickly. The best websites will make sure to regularly update their pages.

4. What do I understand now?

It’s clear and easy to understand

Finally, the information should be clear, free from complex language, medical jargon, and spelling mistakes. It shouldn’t feel like you’re reading an academic journal article!

Untangling the science!

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?

Other helpful websites

Luke James
Dr Luke James
Group Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Director of Healthcare Transformation

    • SHARE checklist. HM Government. GOV.UK., accessed 28 June 2021
    • The PIF TICK. Patient Information Forum., accessed 28 June 2021

About our health information

At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. This is because we believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and wellbeing.

Our information has been awarded the PIF TICK for trustworthy health information. It also follows the principles of the The Information Standard.

The Patient Information Forum tick

Learn more about our editorial team and principles >

Content is loading