it’s difficult to make sense of all of the medical and health
information we hear about on the news, on the web, in magazines
and at the water cooler in the office. Not only can this information
be startling, it also tends to be contradictory. If you feel like
you hear about so many different conclusions on the same topic
from all sorts of “scientific studies,” you’re
realizing the true nature of science. Although some things are
known for sure, other pieces of scientific data are unproven, and
only suggested by correlation from certain studies. That’s
why you might hear that eggs are good for you one day and the next
day you’ll be advised by another health professional to avoid
eggs. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by this information.
But in order to let education and research work for you, you should
also be aware of how to interpret the data.
The major culprit for unofficial health information is the world-wide
web. Some helpful tips for surfing the web for health information
- Look for the entity that runs the site. The site’s sponsor
should be easy to find, and the material should be reviewed by
- Look for the site’s purpose. Some websites will try to
push a service or a medication on readers, and this can affect
the accuracy and the subjectivity of the information you find.
- Make sure the information is current. Many studies and statistics
might date back a few years, before technological advances or
medical discoveries took place.
- Look critically at all health information, especially the headlines
you read in the news. Terms like “may” or “thought
to be” are often brushed over in headlines that are targeted
to draw you to watch a news program or buy a magazine.
- It’s best to find your health information in hospital-sponsored
medical websites or scientific journals and reviews that publish
information reviewed by experienced healthcare professionals.