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Online

Quality health and wellbeing content online can help you make informed decisions.
84% of Australians say they looked for health information online in the past year (Source: NHCCN Ultrafeedback survey, August 2011)
In what formats is health information available online?
Text, images, audio, videos, animations, tools and apps.
How can you consume it?
Via computers, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and social media.
Why do people use the internet to seek health advice?
They have limited time, want a second opinion, or they might be looking for information for family or friends.
When looking for trusted health information online, ask yourself these questions...

Can you trust it?

Who wrote it?

  • What are the qualifications of the writers?
  • Who publishes the content?
  • TIP: Check the ‘About us’ page.
  • TIP: Look for .gov or .edu sites.

Is it up to date?

  • When was it written?
  • When was it last reviewed?
  • TIP: Look for this information at the bottom of each page.

Is it accurate?

  • Is the information based on research?
  • Are information sources provided?
  • TIP: Look for HoNCode certification – a global standard for quality and transparent health information online.
  • TIP: Look for references at the end of the page.

Is it balanced?

  • Are risks and benefits explained?
  • Is the website selling something?
  • Is there advertising on the site?
  • TIP: Commercial interests can mean the information is biased.
  • TIP: Beware of testimonials – they often make untested claims.

Is it right for you?

Is it clear?

  • Is the information easy to find and understand?
  • Are images or video used to help explain the text?
  • TIP: Browse the site or use any available search features.

Is your privacy respected?

  • Is there a privacy policy on the site?
  • If the site collects personal information, is it secure and private?
  • What will your personal information be used for?
  • TIP: Look for a 'Privacy statement' or 'Privacy policy'.

Remember...

  • Compare different sources.
  • Look for clues about the quality of information.
  • Think for yourself.

What to do?

If in doubt, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to speak with a registered nurse 24/7.
Remember, your doctor is the best person to make a diagnosis and answer questions about your health.
Depending on your situation, options could include:
  • self-care
  • visit a pharmacy
  • see your doctor
  • call triple zero (000).

References

You might find our sources for these tips helpful for further reading:

Last reviewed: April 2016

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