Medical Information Online: 6 Ways To Know If It's True

The Internet has opened up a virtual world of health information, tools and advice. Patients and caregivers, however, also must navigate a minefield of medical misinformation.

For example, a group of neurologists reviewed the most frequently watched YouTube videos about movement disorders, only to find that the people in the videos did not even have movement disorders.

Their conclusion, published in a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine, is that patients suffering from neurological disorders could end up confused about treatment options.

This quick checklist from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can help you evaluate online health content.

  1. Can you easily see who sponsors the site?
  2. Is the sponsor a government agency, a medical school or other reliable health-related organization?
  3. Is there contact information?
  4. Can you tell when the content was written?
  5. Is your privacy protected?
  6. Does the site make claims that seem too good to be true? Does it promise miraculous cures?

When in doubt, talk to your doctor about any health concerns. He or she is your best resource for diagnostic options or treatments that apply to your specific health needs.

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