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From Snake Oil to Penicillin: Evaluating Consumer Health on the Internet Terri Ottosen, MLIS, AHIP Consumer Health Coordinator National Network of Libraries.

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Presentation on theme: "From Snake Oil to Penicillin: Evaluating Consumer Health on the Internet Terri Ottosen, MLIS, AHIP Consumer Health Coordinator National Network of Libraries."— Presentation transcript:

1 From Snake Oil to Penicillin: Evaluating Consumer Health on the Internet Terri Ottosen, MLIS, AHIP Consumer Health Coordinator National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern Atlantic Region

2 Objective At the end of this workshop, you will be able to: Determine the accuracy, authority, bias, currency, and coverage of health information and its appropriate use as a consumer health information resource for the public.

3 Pretest Please answer True or False for each statement: All health information on the web is accurate and reliable Reference librarians can provide advice about health information About half of Internet health seekers check the source and timeliness of information every time they search for health information

4 The issue Increased number of: – Patients accessing information on the Internet – Health-related websites Patients believe the web is a reliable source of information The results of one study was published in JAMA – (JAMA May 23-30; 285(20): )

5 Types of Websites What is the purpose of the web page? – Advocacy (American Heart Association) – Business/marketing (Pfizer) – Informational (National Center for Health Statistics) – News (CNN) – Entertainment (Official Star Wars Fan Club)

6 5 Basic Criteria Accuracy Authority Bias Currency Coverage Each of these alone is meaningless, but together create solid guidelines for evaluation

7 Accuracy Is the information accurate? Remember: – Anyone can publish on the web – Many web pages are not reviewed or verified by editors or peers – Web standards to ensure accuracy dont exist

8 Accuracy Example

9 Authority Is the author an authority on the subject? Remember: – It is often difficult to determine the authorship of web pages – If a name is listed, his/her qualifications are frequently absent – Check if the web page has the backing of a well- established organization, institution or agency

10 The URL The Tilde – ~ The Domain –.com,.org,.edu Contact information About us

11 Authority Example

12 Bias Does the author bring any biases in posting this information? Remember: – Web pages are often soapboxes – Goals of the author arent clearly stated – Watch out for the emotional kick Photographs, exclamation points, huge fonts

13 Bias Example

14 Currency Is the information current and timely? Remember: – Dates are not always included – If dates are included, it may not be clear if the date is the date created, the date revised, or the date the page was placed on the Web

15 Currency Example es/hrt-revisiting-the-hormone-decision es/hrt-revisiting-the-hormone-decision

16 Coverage Many health sites are not comprehensive. The information may be accurate but important information may be left out. Remember: – How does this information compare with other sources on the same topic? – Is a better source available? – Does the site have a disclaimer?

17 Coverage Example

18 Additional Resources Site developed by a psychiatrist Author is admittedly anti-alternative, anti- complementary medicine Site can be used to gather background information on questionable treatments

19 Additional Resources (pt.2) Click on health topics, select health fraud

20 Post-test Please answer true or false for each statement: All health information on the web is accurate and reliable Reference librarians can provide advice about health information About half of Internet health seekers check the source and timeliness of information every time they search for health information


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