1. Who Is the Author?The author should be clearly identified and have current contact information available. If there is no contact information or if you must do some detective work to find it, the site may not be a reliable resource. Contact information for a webmaster or IT team should also be available to report any technical problems.
2. Use More Than One SourceTo validate information that you find at one particular source, compare it to other web sites with similar information. When several credible sites agree on a topic, that information is more likely to be accurate and up-to-date. Look for new, original content, and not information that has simply been copied word-for-word from another web site. A source of reliable information will produce its own content.
3. Be Suspicious of the “Only Source"Web sites that claim to be the only resource with all the facts on a subject, or those who seek to discredit other sources, may be unreliable. This is especially true if the web site is trying to sell you a product. If the claims about a product are true, you should easily find more information about it on other web sites. The adage "if it seems to good to be true, it probably is," is particularly true in these cases.
4. Question Online DiagnosticiansReputable physicians do not diagnose and treat patients online. At the very least, a physical exam is needed to help make an accurate diagnosis. In many cases, blood work or other tests might also be needed to find the source of symptoms. Question and answer columns from health care providers are popular and provide access to good information, but responsible providers will caution that a "Q&A" is not a substitute for a physical exam with a physician.
5. Keep Up-To-DateLook for web sites that are regularly updated and maintained. The medical field is constantly changing as new research is published, and information goes out of date quickly. What was considered a fact even a few years ago may now have been proven to be false.
6. Be Aware of Bias
While some for-profit companies and individuals provide reliable health information, others may bias their content toward the product or service they sell. Use your best judgment when it comes to sites that are offering information as well as products.