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Dental Assisting

Use this guide to help you locate, search and retrieve dental assistant research material at the Bailey Library.

Evaluating Health Information

Evaluating Health Websites

Content on the Internet is unregulated; anyone can publish anything on the Internet. There is sound medical information on the Internet along with dangerous information. You need to be able to tell the difference.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Why did the person create the page?
  • What's in it for them?
  • Are they trying to sell me something?

Criteria for evaluating information from the web:

Authority, accuracy, bias/objectivity, currency/timeliness, and coverage 

From the National Institutes of Health

Accuracy

Accuracy

How to determine accuracy:

  1. Is the information based on sound medical research? Can the information on the web page be verified by another source?
  2. Are the sources cited reliable?
  3. Are there grammatical and spelling errors?
  4. Are there footnotes, bibliographies, or references so that you can verify the information? Are these reliable? (a citation to Parade magazine does not have the same weight as an article from JAMA )

Authority

Authority

How to determine authority:

  1. Who published the page? What are the person's credentials? What do you know about them?
  2. Is the person backed by a known organization? (the American Association for Cancer Therapy may be a made-up name for something operating out of someone's basement.)
  3. Is the person affiliated with a university? If so, is the person a student or a faculty member?
  4. Can you easily find contact information on the web page? Check the about us link, usually found at the beginning or the end of a webpage. What does the About Us section tell you about the purpose of the organization? Can you find a physical location for the organization? Or is the only way to contact the organization through a webform?
  5. What is the domain name? (.edu, .gov ) Is it a personal page or supported by the organization? The tilde (~) means that the site is a personal page (compare an address like med.harvard.edu/~jsmith/headache to med.harvard.edu/neurology/headache)

Bias/Objectivity

Bias/Objectivity

How to determine bias/objectivity:

  1. Is the information showing just one point of view?
  2. What kind of institution sponsored the webpage? A pharmaceutical company? A non-profit organization?
  3. Is advertising clearly marked?
  4. Can you tell if the information you are reading is advertisement?
  5. Do the graphics, fonts, and verbiage play to th emotions? Beware of CAPITAL LETTERS, EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!! Or words like MIRACLE CURE!!!
  6. Is the author using data improperly to promote a position or a product?

Currency/Timeliness

Currency/Timeliness

How to determine currency/timeliness:

  1. Is there a date on the page?
  2. When was the page last updated?
  3. Do the links work?
  4. Has there been more recent research on the subject? Many medical treatments change with the publication of new studies. What was published a year ago may be outdated now.

Coverage

Coverage

How to determine coverage:

  1. Is the information complete?
  2. Are there sources given for additional information?

Find Good Health Information

What does the HON Code mean?

HON code

Health Website Evaluation Tool

Provides advise to patients on the safe use of the Internet for health information.

What does the HON code mean?

"HON was founded to encourage the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals and the general public, and to facilitate access to the latest and most relevant medical data through the use of the Internet."

HONcode Site Evaluation Form

Answer questions to help you evaluate the website.