Thursday, September 20, 2012

Trustworthy websites for medical information

Someone sent this great question to me earlier today:

How do you know which web sites are legit?

That's always a tough call, but here are some of the sites that I rely on:
 
  • National disease organizations, like the National Cancer Foundation

  • Info from NIH websites (like NIAMS). You can find a full list of government health-related websites here: http://patients.about.com/od/researchandresources/a/govtsitehub.htm

  • Do an overall search on your topic at  www.healthfinder.gov

  • Med school or teaching-hospital sites can be helpful, like:
    Mayo Clinic:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health-information/
    Johns Hopkins: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/

  • eMedicine recently merged with Medscape, which created this site: http://emedicine.medscape.com/  (If you try to look up BD on this site, you have to enter it as "Behcet" and not "Behcet's"... otherwise, no info shows up.)

  • PubMed lets you search for medical journal articles that have been published on the topic you're interested in. Here's the link, although it sometimes takes patience (and/or trial-and-error) to find the exact info you need. Here's the link:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/

  •  UpToDate offers a lot of excellent info in two different formats: for patients (at
    http://www.uptodate.com/patients/index.html ), and for doctors (at
    http://www.uptodate.com/home/clinicians/index.html
    )
    The patient side is free, but it doesn't go into a lot of detail. If you want to get your hands on the more-detailed info that doctors see, you can, but you have to pay for it. They have a 7-day all-access pass for $19.95, or a 30-day pass for $44.95. What makes UpToDate so good is that it does regular updates of all its content, and it summarizes all of the most recent research on the topic you're looking for. It also provides references.

  • WebMD can be helpful, but you have to look carefully to make sure you're not clicking on one of the product ads, which may be disguised as the info you're looking for. Look for VERY small lettering that will say ADVERTISEMENT.

I'm sure I've left some valuable ones off the list, but this is what I remember off the top
of my head. Other websites can be a crapshoot. Some are good, but a lot are bad, with
quite a bit of misinformation. It helps if the website has content that's been reviewed by a doctor or medical panel, and has a date indicating when the info was last updated.


Happy hunting!

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