How to Verify Information About Health Issuesby Elaine Plummer
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Since I am somewhat new to ModernMom and have recently begun posting about health, I want to let you know where I get the information for my posts and for when I respond to questions and comments.
I think this is important, as there is a lot of misinformation on websites dedicated to health that is not research-based or credible. While I have a lot of experience in women’s health, I still rely on sources that I trust so I can be factual and current.
Where do I go?
1. National Institute of Health (NIH)
The NIH is “ the nation’s medical research agency - supporting scientific studies that turn discovery into health.” At the NIH website, you can find comprehensive health information about all kinds of topics and conditions. The NIH information is backed up by clinical research and credible studies conducted in a methodical and scientific way. Their site is easy to navigate and you can find all kinds of health information. They also have a section specific to women’s health.
2. Medical Organizations
A site I visit frequently is The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). They have an ACOG patient page, which houses the latest consumer brochures from leading experts in women’s healthcare. Often I link to a brochure or topic area, as the brochures are written so that even those who aren’t medical professionals can understand the content. Another favorite site of mine to reference is the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). They also have a resource area with research, education and health policy. Most professional medical organizations have sites that contain the same type of information, relevant to the disease state or overall topic area.
3. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA site has information on food, drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics, amongst others. Also there is the latest medical or health news and events, as well as a place to report a problem with a product or advertisement, criminal activity etc. I usually access drug information on the FDA site, though most pharmaceutical company sites have similar information about their drugs, as the FDA requires it.
Facebook probably isn’t on your list of top sources for health information, but many brands these days use Facebook as a way to communicate and educate consumers on their products. Several brand pages, such as the Always Facebook page, regularly engage fans with up-to-date information and address any questions or concerns. Be careful to use the official brand page, however, as there are a lot of bogus Facebook pages out there!
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Love this site. On their home page they have easy to maneuver sections on health and safety topics, such as diseases and conditions, emergency preparedness and response, healthy living, travelers health, and more. It is definitely worth visiting the site’s content area.
6. Medically reviewed articles
I sometimes go to sites like WebMD, as they have medically authored and/or reviewed articles that are easy to find and understand. . Some product sites also have excellent information, but it’s important to check out the references. The key here is to look at who authored the article, what is his or her educational background is and whether anyone else reviewed the content. As a nurse, I like articles that are written primarily by a medical professional or articles that have been reviewed by medical professionals for content accuracy. Also, check the dates of the research being used for the article or opinion. Research that is older than 10 years is often outdated. You can find more recent information out there that is more relevant to your needs and the current state of the topic, product or disease state. However, sometimes research that is older than 10 years may have well-accepted conclusions that is worthy of consideration.
Now that you know me a bit better, I hope you feel free to ask away with confidence. Also, if you like to do your own research, there is no doubt that if you begin with the resources I have shared that you will have fact based info provided by true health experts.
Elaine Plummer is a health expert for Always and Tampax.