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Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA): OTA Web Resources

Considerations When Using Health Information on the Public Internet

HON CodeUse Health on the Net (HON) to see if the website sponsor presents its information factually and clearly.  While this site does not guaranteed accuracy, the HON code icon indicates that the website meets continual standards for deploying online medical and health information in appropriate and ethical ways. Tip: Download the HON toolbar on your home computer.

View Evaluating Health information: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine

Read User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web  from the Medical Library Association for a few ideas for filtering the available web pages to a manageable number:

Purpose: Why was the page created? To: Inform, entertain, advertise, influence, advocate, provide up-to-the-moment news?  Health professionals must identify the best information to make accurate health decisions. Be particularly wary of websites that are trying to sell you their medical product.  Medical marketers will post research supporting their product, but won’t post research that doesn’t support it.

Authority/author: Who is responsible for the page? Is the author an expert in this field? What else has he/she written or produced? Does the author provide an e-mail address? How accurate is the provided information? Can you find any information that substantiates the person’s level of expertise?

Sponsor/Owner: On what type of Internet provider or domain does the page reside?  Government agency (.gov, .mil, .us);  Educational (.edu); Business/Company (.com, .biz ); Association: Professional or Non Profit (.org).  Does it matter?

What is it? Web-only page; magazine news or journal article; government source, blog, etc. Be particularly careful with information in listservs, blogs, and wikis – especially if you cannot verify it in standard respected information sources.

Audience: To what type of reader is the Web page directed? Is this written for medical professionals, or, for consumer health information seekers?

Coverage: Does the page cover the topic comprehensively, partially or is it an overview? Are the graphics clear in intent, relevant and professional looking?

Design and Content: Is the page organized and focused? Is it well designed? Is the text well written? Are the links relevant, appropriate and up-to-date? How’s the spelling?

Bias: Is a bias in the author’s or sponsor’s work  evident? Is it stated, or implied?  Medical product companies will be biased toward their own brands.

Date of Production/Revision: When was the Web page produced? When was it last revised? Are all the links still viable?

Security:  Are security and/or encryption systems employed when necessary?

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