Beware of bias. Opinions should be clearly represented as such, and the source should be identified. While blogs, chat rooms, and discussion boards can provide support to the health information seeker, these online forums often contain individual anecdotes and misinformation, and they should not serve as primary information sources.
Credible Sites for Health Information
Information found online should support, not replace, the doctor-patient relationship. Talk to your healthcare provider about what you've read online, and ask her/him any follow-up questions you may have. Start you search with these credible sites, and consider bookmarking them for future visits:
Healthfinder.gov (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Department of Health and Human Services)
MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Familydoctor.org (American Academy of Family Physicians)
Cancer.gov (National Cancer Institute)
Go Ask Alice! (Columbia University)
Focus Your Search
Entering search terms into your favorite search engine can yield thousands of results. You can prevent feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by refining your search terms. Learn how to use the advanced searching features of the sites so that you can combine terms and make your retrieval more precise. For example, entering the terms "Chlamydia" and "treatment" linked together is more powerful and precise than trying to sort through all the hits found by simply entering the term "Chlamydia."
Use a search engine that only pulls from reputable sites that have been vetted by health professionals. The National Library of Medicine's DIRLINE and Medline.gov are two such search engines. Healthfinder.gov searches for information only on government health websites.
Medical Library Association, A User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web
National Cancer Institute, Evaluating Health Information on the Internet
Health on the Net Foundation, HONCode certified web sites (Sites displaying the HONCode accreditation have met a basic threshold of quality and trustworthiness.)
Our Bodies, Ourselves Health Resource Center, How to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet
Evaluating Internet Health Information: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine
Center for Disease Control and Prevention's list of online Health Information Sources