If you’re like a growing number of Americans – approximately 25.5 million, according to the New York Times – you’re increasingly turning to the Internet to find answers to your health and medical questions. And there seems to be no shortage of websites to surf, the Boston Globe reports, as there are an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 sites that offer health-related information. But one of the perils of the Internet is that it is unregulated, and Internet users can be exposed to dubious-even dangerous information. So how can you find a reputable site that provides reliable, credible information?
For starters, you can visit Hospital’s Medical Linkssection. Nancy Callander, manager of the Hospital Library and the Lund Community Health Library, is vigilant about reviewing all medical links before they are posted on website. “We look for sites that are not overly technical, but not too simplistic either,” Callander explained. “We also ensure that the links we provide are reliable, current and, if possible, subscribe to the HON Code of Conduct.”
The HON (Health on the Net Foundation) outlines eight principles that medical and health websites should follow. (See www.hon.ch/HONcode/Conduct.html.) Among them: supplying the author’s credentials; providing information to support, not replace, the patient/physician relationship; offering clear references to source data; and disclosure of commercial and noncommercial organizations that contribute funding to the website.
To ensure that these links are helpful to patients and the public, the website is updated to respond to community requests and inquiries. Recently, for example, Callander received a request for information on eye diseases. Within a short amount of time, visitors to the website could link to two sites that provide information on eye disorders: the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Digital Journal of Ophthalmology.
In addition to Medical Links, the Hospital website offers a Find a Doctor page to find Linden, NJ back doctors with links to information on medical and surgical specialists, an interactive town map, career and volunteer opportunities, health events, and classes.