Millions of Americans search for health information on the web every year. Whether the health information is needed for personal reasons or for a loved one, millions of health-related web pages are viewed by millions of consumers. Sometimes the information found is just what was needed. Other searches end in frustration or retrieval of inaccurate, even dangerous, information.
This guide outlines the collective wisdom of medical librarians who surf the web every day to discover quality information in support of clinical and scientific decision making by doctors, scientists, and other health practitioners responsible for the nation's health. This guide is supported by the Medical Library Association (MLA), the library organization whose primary purpose is promoting quality information for improved health and whose members were the first to realize that not all health information on the web is credible, timely, or safe.
The guide is presented in three brief sections. The first section, "Getting Started," provides tips on filtering the millions of health-related web pages through the health subsets of major search engines and using quality electronic finding tools developed by the U.S. government to do an initial screen of websites for further examination. This section is followed by a set of guidelines developed for evaluating the content of health-related websites. The final section provides additional information of interest to consumers searching for health-related information on the web.