Sixty percent of consumers now turn to the Internet for medical advice online according to research conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation in the fall of 2007. What is astonishing is that 54 percent follow online advice even when they didn’t believe it!
There are very reputable medical Web sites that provide a wealth of information about a broad spectrum of medical conditions. And there are plenty of quack sites that dispense entirely spurious medical “advice.” So how can you tell the difference?
- Ask your doctor if he or she recommends the Web site.
- Look for the Health on the Net (HON) seal of approval which is only given to sites that have been accredited against a strict set of principles. If you don’t see this seal on the site, you can search for it.
- Ask your vet if he or she recommends the Web site.
- There is no HON equivalent for pet care sites, so ask the following questions:
- Who created the Web site? Are they credentialed experts?
- Do they keep the site current?
- Does the site contain information relevant for pets in your area? (Some parasites, for example, are more of an issue in some areas than others.)
Your health and the health of those you love is not something to take chances on. Though qualified medical Web sites provide a wealth of information that can help you understand symptoms and illnesses, no Web site will provide you with better or more reliable information than a well trained medical specialist who knows you, your family members, or your pet. Before treating yourself based on information you find online, always consult with your own medical advisor.