A guide to finding the right health website

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There are many sources of health information – your doctor, nurse or physiotherapist, the library, magazines and newspapers. Increasingly, many of us use the internet to find information on a disease that we or a family member may have or to look for information on how to improve our health. There are many sites that claim to be able to give you information. But how do you know the information is correct, accurate and trustworthy? How do you know that this information is not influenced, for example, by a pharmaceutical company or someone trying to sell you something? The questions on this card should help you to search for and find the most reliable health information on the web.

Questions you should be able to answer straight away…







Is it clear which company or organisation is responsible for the website? Look for a logo, or the name of the company or organisation. Think about whether this type of company or organisation is one you would want to learn from.

Does the website seem to be selling you something? Organisations may sell advertising (usually in a banner at the top or side of the page) to finance their website, but websites that seem to want you to buy something could contain information biased toward this.

Are there many spelling mistakes and errors? You should be able to get an idea about the quality of a website based on the quality of the writing: lots of silly mistakes could signal that there are also bigger errors.

Is there an indication on the home page or other pages of when the information was posted there? Out-of-date medical information can be very dangerous.

A question you should be able to answer from the “contact us” section…

Does the site provide contact details, including name, physical address and electronic address? You should be able to contact the people running the site if you have any questions or problems.

Answers to these questions are most often found in the “about us” section…

Is the name of the author (or the organisation) clearly stated, as well as their aim? You should judge whether the organisation, company or person writing the information for the site is likely to provide trustworthy information. Registered charities, professional organisations, hospitals or university departments are likely to be good sources of information. Commercial companies have products to sell which may influence what they write.

Is there information about how the content of the website was selected and written? You should be able to find out how the information was compiled, which will help you judge whether you think it is reliable.

Does the site explain that health information should not be taken as health advice or a substitute for visiting a health professional? Any information you find on the web should be taken in combination with other information you have been given or found, and should be discussed with your doctor.

The European Lung Foundation (ELF) website provides trustworthy information on lung diseases and related health issues in 8 European languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Russian and Greek.

The website has been written by experts from the European Respiratory Society, an organisation of lung health professionals and scientists who have the most up-to-date information on: asthma, COPD, lung cancer, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, sleep apnoea, interstitial lung diseases and much more…

On the website you will also find a list of other websites in your country on specific diseases which have been viewed and approved by the ELF.


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