The Doctor is Online
Canadians are increasingly turning to the Internet for reliable, relevant health-related information. But what makes a website trustworthy? And what type of websites should be avoided? We have the right prescription for you.
Reliable medical websites tend to list sources and provide contact information. They’ve been approved by a recognized third party, and include links to other reliable sites. They will include a statement to the effect that any medical advice found on the website should be approved by a health professional, and they are usually sponsored by or affiliated with legitimate organizations, such as governments or universities.
Specialized Canadian Medical Websites
Reliable Canadian medical websites tend to be produced by well-known and established organizations. They include the following:
- Alzheimer Society of Canada
- The Asthma Society of Canada
- Canadian Cancer Society
- Canadian Dental Association
- Canadian Diabetes Association
- The Lung Association
- Heart & Stroke Foundation
- Osteoporosis Canada
- The Arthritis Society
General Medical Websites
A good general health-related website can be more difficult to identify. Look for something called the HONcode and a link to verify its accreditation. If a site does not have the HONcode, it does not necessarily mean that the site is no good, but with the code you can rest assured that the site is reliable.
Reliable Canadian Sites
There are some excellent Canadian sites out there to help you.
Canadian Consumer Information Gateway offers consumer information and contacts amassed by federal departments and agencies, and provincial and territorial ministries. This site has links to hundreds of documents on everything from peanut allergies to belly-button piercing.
Canadian Medical Association is a great source for information on medical conditions, which can be searched alphabetically or from the “Health Library,” “Personal Health” and “Condition Centre” menu. The former includes a medication database detailing when a specific medication should be taken and what side effects-if any-to expect.
Health Canada this Government of Canada website covers a wide variety of topics including advisories, warnings and recalls on products affecting the health of Canadians, information on medical devices and natural health products.
Healthy Canadians is a Government of Canada website is designed to provide Canadians easy access to government health-related campaigns. The site includes links to information on the benefits of physical activity as well as Canada’s Food Guide.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada offers The Patient Education Program with an alphabetical listing of various medical topics, ranging from acne to weight control.
Reliable International Sites
Healthfinder is a U.S. government website containing valuable information on diseases and conditions, alternative medicine and featured topics.
NHS Direct is the British National Health Service website that includes a self-help guide where you can suggests a medical condition based on general symptoms. The website can be viewed in more than a dozen languages.
MedicineNet.com is an American site wth an Ask the Experts feature, which allows you get a reliable answer to your pressing medical questions.
WRAPIN (Worldwide online Reliable Advice to Patients and Individuals) is a Geneva-based website, affiliated with the Health On the Net Foundation. You can type in any website, keyword or medical text and WRAPIN will find relevant and trustworthy sources of additional information.
MedlinePlus is an American database with information from government agencies and health-related organizations. It provides extensive resources on health topics, health news and references.
Redflags for Unreliable site
- Websites that are not updated regularly.
- Websites where the person or organization behind the site does not have proper credentials.
- Websites that promote specific products.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to sign up for our weekly health newsletter and receive more articles on health and well-being.