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Institute on Aging speaks of reliability + availability of on-line information.

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Discussions here are intended for information and dialog only. Talk with your healthcare professional before making decisions or taking actions that may affect your health.

Version 1.0 | Update 6Jul11
Written by Paul Quin
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The internet is a good information resource. Use it responsibly.

The internet makes available to each of us, even in the deep countryside, a wealth of information. The key to taking advantage of this info is to approach it smartly and use it wisely. Toward this end, Health on the Net suggests five areas of concern:

Know who is behind the site.

Every information website should have simple ways to contact them directly and a transparent statement of who they are and of their objectives. There should also be clear information on who funds the site; this could affect content. It is crucial that any advertising be clearly distinguished from editorial content; advertising does not have rules of impartiality.

Evaluate the expertise of authors.

Articles must include author names and qualifications along with documented sources and attributions. This helps you use info wisely. Patient advocates, for example, may be more reliable on patient behaviour and support issues, while laboratory researchers may be more accurate about viral and pharmaceutical details.

Rely on your doctor.

On-line info is meant to supplement discussions with your doctor and clinic staff. No stranger can know your situation, but it can help to know more about the big picture.

Keep charge of your personal info.

Be sure before you give even your email address that the site keeps all data secure and private.

Make sure any claims are well supported.

If any benefits are alleged, make sure there is a record of achievement to back them up. If you want to bring an idea to your doctor, bring along the back-up info provided on the site.