Dietary Supplement Office - How to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet: Questions and Answers (2023)

The Internet makes it easy and fast to find health information. Much of the information on the Internet is valuable; However, the Internet also enables the rapid and widespread spread of false and misleading information. You should carefully consider the source of information found on the Internet and discuss this information with your doctor. This fact sheet can help you decide whether health information you find online or receive via email, text, or social media is likely to be reliable.

  • Who runs the site?

    Online resources such as websites and social media should make it easy to know who is responsible for the website and the information it contains. For example, on the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) website, ODS is clearly marked on each major page along with a link to the site's home page.

  • Who pays for the site?

    Running websites and social networks costs money. The source of funding for the website must be clearly stated or obvious. For example, the US government funds websites ending in ".gov", educational institutions maintain ".edu" websites, addresses for non-profit organizations often use ".org", and ".com" indicates a commercial organization. The site's source of funding can affect what content is presented, how it is presented, and what the owner wants to achieve with the site.

  • What is the purpose of the page?

    The person or organization that runs the website and the website's funding sources determine the website's purpose. Many websites contain a link to information about the website, often called "About this website". This website should clearly state the purpose of the website and help you judge the reliability of the information on the website. Although many legitimate websites sell health and medical products, be aware that the website owner's desire to promote a product or service may affect the accuracy of the health information presented. Seeking another independent and unbiased source of health information may help you verify the accuracy of the materials presented on the Site.

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  • What is the original source of information about the site?

    Many health and medical websites publish information collected by the owner from other websites or sources. If the person or organization responsible for the site did not write the material, they must clearly indicate the original source. In the case of social networking sites, it is also important to consider whether the source of information is reliable, ie. what is the experience and knowledge of the person posting the content?

  • How does the site document evidence to support its claims?

    Websites should identify the medical and scientific evidence that supports the material presented on the website. Reference must be made to medical facts and data (such as citations from articles published in medical journals). Additionally, opinions or advice should be clearly distinguished from "evidence-based" (ie, research-based) information. Testimonials from people who say they have tried a particular product or service are not based on evidence and usually cannot be verified.

  • Who checked the information before the owner put it on the site?

    Health-related websites should include information about medical reports from individuals who prepared or reviewed the material posted on the website. For example, the ODS website provides fact sheets on vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements. These documents are subject to extensive scientific review by recognized experts from academia and research.

  • How up-to-date is the information on the site?

    Experts should regularly review and update the material on the websites. Medical information must be up-to-date because medical research is constantly providing new information about conditions and the best ways to treat or prevent them. Websites must clearly indicate the date of the last update or review. Even if the information has not changed for a long time, the website owner should indicate that someone has recently viewed it to ensure that the information is still up to date.

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  • How does a website owner choose links to other websites?

    Reputable website owners usually have policies that govern which links to other websites they post. Some medical websites take a conservative approach and do not provide links to other websites; some sites link to any site that solicits or pays for a link; and others only provide links to sites that meet certain criteria. Checking a site's link policy can help you understand how it chooses to link to other sites and what it is trying to achieve by sending those links.

  • What information does the site collect about users and why?

    Websites routinely track the path users take on their websites to determine which pages they view. However, many health-related sites also ask users to "subscribe" or "become a member" of the site. Sometimes websites do this to collect a fee from the user or to select relevant information for the user. Subscription or membership may allow the website owner to collect your personal information.

    Any website or social media site that asks for personal information should clearly explain what the site will and will not do with that information. Many commercial sites sell "aggregate" data—for example, what percentage of their users take nutritional supplements—about their users to other companies. In some cases, websites collect and reuse personally identifiable information such as zip code, gender and date of birth. Be sure to read and understand any privacy policy or similar language on the Site and do not sign up for anything you do not fully understand.

  • How does the site manage interactions with users?

    Websites and social media should always allow users to contact the website owner with issues, feedback and questions. If there is a chat or other form of online discussion on the site, the terms of service should be clarified. For example, the site should make it clear whether anyone is moderating discussions and, if so, who is moderating them, and what criteria the moderator uses to determine which comments to accept and which to reject. Always read online discussions before participating to make sure you are familiar with the discussion and what the participants are saying to each other.

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  • How can you verify the accuracy of the information you receive via email or SMS?

    Be careful when evaluating emails or text messages that contain health information. Consider the origin and purpose of the message. Some companies or organizations use email or text messages to advertise products or attract people to their websites. A critical eye is warranted if a person or company promotes a particular medical product or service in an email or text message without providing supporting medical documentation.

  • How does the US federal government protect consumers from false or misleading health claims made online?

    TheUS Food and Drug Administration (FDA)regulates food, including dietary supplements. The FDA monitors the market for potential illegal products that may be unsafe or make false or misleading claims. FDA publications that can help you evaluate health information includeInformation for consumers about the use of dietary supplementsIHealth-related fraud.

    TheFederal Trade Commission (FTC)enforces consumer protection laws and regulates the advertising of dietary supplements. As part of its mission, the FTC investigates complaints about false or misleading health claims posted online.

    TheDietary supplement office (ODS)zNational Institute of Healthstimulates and supports research into nutritional supplements, disseminates results of research into nutritional supplements and provides educational material about nutritional supplements, including e.g.information leaflets on dietary supplementsand other reliablehealth information.

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  • The following sources provide more information about evaluating health information online:

    Online resource search and evaluation (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

    Assessing health information online: A guide from the National Library of Medicine

    Health Information Assessment (National Library of Medicine)

  • FAQs

    What are the six criteria for evaluating health information on the Internet? ›

    How do you evaluate health information you find on the Web? There are six broad criteria for evaluation of health information you find on the web. They are: Credibility, Content, Disclosure, Links, Design and Interactivity.

    What 3 criteria can help you evaluate health information? ›

    The information should be reliable, accurate and current.

    Where could you look to find accurate answers to questions about nutrition and physical activity? ›

    The National Institutes of Health website is a good place to start for reliable health information. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is another one. As a rule, health websites sponsored by federal government agencies are accurate sources of information.

    What consumers must do when evaluating nutrition and health information? ›

    There are two key steps: Ask questions before you trust what you read or hear. Discuss the information you find with your health care provider before you rely on it.

    What are the 4 steps to evaluating Internet information? ›

    There are six (6) criteria that should be applied when evaluating any Web site: authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, coverage, and appearance. For each criterion, there are several questions to be asked. The more questions you can answer "yes", the more likely the Web site is one of quality. What about the news?

    What are the 5 criteria for evaluating Internet information? ›

    Five Criteria for Evaluating Web Pages: Accuracy, Authority, Objectivity, Currency and Coverage. Who wrote the page?

    What are 3 ways to evaluate information? ›

    For this reason, it is especially important to evaluate information on the Internet.
    • Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content. ...
    • Authority: The source of the information. ...
    • Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs. ...
    • Currency: The timeliness of the information.

    How do you evaluate information on the Internet? ›

    Is the information reliable and high in quality?
    1. Does the author cite specific sources? Are the sources credible? ...
    2. Can the information be verified in another source? Try to find the information in a different source.
    3. Are there editors or reviewers? ...
    4. Are there grammar or spelling errors on the page?

    What are two key points for evaluating health information on the Internet? ›

    Websites should identify the medical and scientific evidence that supports the material presented on the site. Medical facts and figures should have references (such as citations of articles published in medical journals).

    What five questions should you ask yourself when evaluating nutrition information? ›

    Questions you should be asking about nutrition
    • How would you describe your diet?
    • What does a healthy diet look like to you? ...
    • What did you have for breakfast? ...
    • How many servings of fruits and vegetables do you have per day? ...
    • How often do you eat fish? ...
    • What medications are you taking?
    Feb 29, 2016

    What are 5 reliable sources of nutrition information? ›

    Trusted Websites and Sources
    USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
    Food and Drug Administration
    Healthy People
    20 more rows

    How do you go about finding accurate nutrition information? ›

    Six strategies to identify reliable nutrition information
    1. The author is a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Professional Dietitian (PDt) ...
    2. The article has been peer reviewed. ...
    3. The article lists sources of information. ...
    4. The article is not promoting one or more products. ...
    5. The article claims do not seem to be “too good to be true”

    What 4 key things should you look out for when reading the nutrition information panel? ›

    what ingredients it contains (listed in order from largest to smallest by weight) nutritional information (such as average amount of energy, fat, protein, sugars and salt) percentage labelling (how much of the main ingredients it contains, so you can compare it to other products) use-by or best-before date.

    What are seven sources of reliable health information? ›

    The main sources of health statistics are surveys, administrative and medical records, claims data, vital records, surveillance, disease registries, and peer-reviewed literature.

    What is the most accurate nutrition database? ›

    FooDB is the world's largest and most comprehensive resource on food constituents, chemistry and biology. It provides information on both macronutrients and micronutrients, including many of the constituents that give foods their flavor, color, taste, texture and aroma.

    What is the first thing you should consider when evaluating a source's credibility? ›

    It is important to be able to identify which sources are credible. This ability requires an understanding of depth, objectivity, currency, authority, and purpose. Whether or not your source is peer-reviewed, it is still a good idea to evaluate it based on these five factors.

    What are the 5 C's Internet? ›

    The 5 Cs are the key areas that need to be addressed in a comprehensive evaluation--credibility, currency, content, construction and clarity.

    What are the ten key questions to ask when evaluating a website? ›

    Website Evaluation Questions
    • Is the information accurate? Is the information reliable and free of errors? ...
    • Who is the author and what are his/her credentials? Is it clear who the author is? ...
    • How objective is the source? ...
    • How current is the information? ...
    • How extensive is the coverage of information?

    What are excellent criteria to evaluate information? ›

    To evaluate online information, consider the following criteria:
    • Credibility.
    • Bias.
    • Accuracy.
    • Currency.
    • Relevance.
    • Significance.
    • Intended Audience.
    • Usability.
    Apr 5, 2022

    What are the 2 major ways of conducting evaluation? ›

    The three main types of evaluation methods are goal-based, process-based and outcomes-based. Goal-based evaluations measure if objectives have been achieved (We highly recommend S.M.A.R.T. Goals). Process-based evaluations analyze strengths and weaknesses.

    What are the 3 basic questions you would ask when evaluating your source? ›

    There are four questions to ask when evaluating sources:
    • How well does the source answer the research question?
    • Is the information provided by an expert?
    • Is the source valid?
    • Is there a variety of sources?

    What are the 3 R's of evaluation? ›

    Simple Summary. The 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement, formulated by William Russell and Rex Burch, have become synonymous with the measures to improve the welfare of animals used in research and are now used as an ethical framework for improving laboratory animal welfare throughout the world.

    How do we evaluate information? ›

    Evaluating information sources
    1. Currency: The timeliness of the information.
    2. Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.
    3. Authority: The source of the information.
    4. Purpose: The reason the information exists.
    May 1, 2023

    What factors can help you evaluate a source of information? ›

    As you examine each source, it is important to evaluate each source to determine the quality of the information provided within it. Common evaluation criteria include: purpose and intended audience, authority and credibility, accuracy and reliability, currency and timeliness, and objectivity or bias.

    Why is it important to evaluate online information? ›

    Evaluating information encourages you to think critically about the reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, point of view or bias of information sources. Just because a book, article, or website matches your search criteria does not mean that it is necessarily a reliable source of information.

    How do you evaluate data quality in healthcare? ›

    Example of health data quality requirement
    1. Availability and accessibility. Data is available when needed and is accessible to whomever needs it. ...
    2. Accuracy. Data depicts reality and truth. ...
    3. Validation. ...
    4. Completeness. ...
    5. Currency. ...
    6. Consistency. ...
    7. Identifiability. ...
    8. Provenance.
    Jun 27, 2022

    What are the five C's for assessing the quality of information on a website containing health related information? ›

    What are the "five C's" for assessing the quality of information on a website containing health-related information? Credibility, currency, content, construction, and clarity.

    What are the main 3 things you should know about the Nutrition Facts label? ›

    To read and really understand the Nutrition Facts label, look for these 3 things:
    • The Serving Size. The serving size listed in Nutrition Facts is the amount that is often consumed at one sitting. ...
    • The Percent Daily Value (%DV) ...
    • The Best Profile.
    Feb 26, 2020

    What questions might you ask to evaluate health related information? ›

    3 questions you can ask to evaluate health information? Does this respect my values? Does this present health risks? Is the information up to date?

    What questions should you ask about supplements? ›

    Here are five questions a consumer may want to ask when considering supplements.
    • Has the product triggered any health warnings or sanctions? ...
    • Has the product been tested by independent labs? ...
    • Is the product too good to be true? ...
    • Is there evidence that the supplement does what it promises? ...
    • Do I really need supplements?
    Jan 19, 2016

    What are 4 sources of information on nutritional requirements? ›

    Common sources of nutrition information identified in the literature include the internet, family members and friends, television, and books [4, 6, 13, 15, 22].

    What are 8 examples of information that must be listed on the nutrition Facts panel? ›

    The Nutrition Facts label must list total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, total sugars, added sugars, protein, and certain vitamins and minerals.

    What are the 4 categories of information on the Nutrition Facts label? ›

    Understanding the Nutrition Facts label on food items can help you make healthier choices. The label breaks down the amount of calories, carbs, fat, fiber, protein, and vitamins per serving of the food, making it easier to compare the nutrition of similar products.

    How do you tell if a source is credible? ›

    How to identify a credible source
    1. The information should be up-to-date and current.
    2. The source should be relevant to your research.
    3. The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
    4. The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
    Aug 26, 2021

    Does FDA check nutrition facts? ›

    The FDA is government agency that is responsible for regulating the foods that are brought into the United States, to enforce accuracy of nutrition information provided on nutrition labels and to product public health in regards to all things food and beverage.

    What information should be recorded in a nutrition assessment? ›

    Although a complete nutritional assessment includes a review of the diet history, physical examination, growth and anthropometric measurements, and selected laboratory testing, accurate height and weight measurements and their transformation to relative indices of undernutrition or overnutrition serve as the mainstay ...

    What are 2 key things to look at when assessing a nutrition label? ›

    Here are some tips for reading and understanding a nutritional label.
    • Step 1 – Check the serving size and the Percent Daily Value. ...
    • Step 2 – Note how many calories are in a serving. ...
    • Step 3 – Make sure the item doesn't have too much saturated fat, trans fats or sodium.
    • Step 4 – Check the carbohydrates.

    What is the most important thing to look at on a nutrition label? ›

    It's important to realize that all the nutrient amounts shown on the label, including the number of calories, refer to the size of the serving. Pay attention to the serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package.

    What three criteria can help you evaluate health information? ›

    The information should be reliable, accurate and current.

    What are example reliable sources of information? ›

    Scholarly, peer-reviewed articles and books. Trade or professional articles or books. Magazine articles, books and newspaper articles from well-established companies.

    What are 3 reliable sources of nutrition information? ›

    Trustworthy Sources
    • US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Information Center. ...
    • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). ...
    • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ...
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    What are the three most reliable sources for nutrition information? ›

    Registered dietitians, licensed nutritionists and Extension agents are good sources of reliable information on food and nutrition topics.

    What is the most accurate indicator of current nutritional status? ›

    5 Most Reliable Ways To Measure Nutritional Status [Guide]
    1. Nutrition testing. ...
    2. Dietary methods. ...
    3. Anthropometry. ...
    4. Biochemical methods. ...
    5. Clinical methods.

    What are the 6 criteria of evaluation? ›

    Relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability are widely used evaluation criteria, particularly in international development co-operation. They help to determine the merit or worth of various interventions, such as strategies, policies, programmes or projects.

    What are the six criteria of quality healthcare? ›

    Don Berwick describes six dimensions of quality in health care: safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity.

    What are six sources of health data? ›

    The main sources of health statistics are surveys, administrative and medical records, claims data, vital records, surveillance, disease registries, and peer-reviewed literature. We'll take a look into these sources, and the pros and cons of using each to create health statistics.

    How do you evaluate Internet resources in health information? ›

    1. Who runs the site? ...
    2. Who pays for the site? ...
    3. What is the site's purpose? ...
    4. What is the original source of the site's information? ...
    5. How does the site document the evidence supporting its information? ...
    6. Who reviewed the information before the owner posted it on the site? ...
    7. How current is the information on the site?

    What are the 7 elements of evaluation? ›

    7 Elements of Program Evaluation
    • Stakeholders. How stakeholders perceive the program and its impact.
    • Benefits. The realized benefits and overall impact of the program. ...
    • Financial. Financial management and controls. ...
    • Risk. ...
    • Quality. ...
    • Schedule. ...
    • Recommendations.
    Jun 25, 2017

    What is an evaluation criteria checklist? ›

    An evaluation checklist distills and clarifies relevant elements of practitioner experience, theory, principles, and research to support evaluators in their work. The Evaluation Checklist Project seeks to advance excellence in evaluation by providing high-quality checklists to guide practice.

    What are the 3 key principles of evaluation? ›

    Systematic Inquiry: Evaluators conduct systematic, data-based inquiries about whatever is being evaluated. Competence: Evaluators provide competent performance to stakeholders. Integrity / Honesty: Evaluators ensure the honesty and integrity of the entire evaluation process.

    What are the 5 domains of quality in healthcare? ›

    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality denotes six domains of healthcare quality, including effective, efficient, timely, safe, patient-centered, and equitable.

    What are the 5 pillars of quality healthcare? ›

    5 Pillars of Safety in Healthcare® is a disciplined strategy based on five critical areas. Focus on 1) hand hygiene, 2) process, 3) surface measurement, 4) augmentation, and 5) emerging solutions can mitigate infection transmission. All five must work in an integrated program fueled by people, protocols and products.

    What 6 factors are specifically used to measure quality of life? ›

    Ideally, they should be considered simultaneously, because of potential trade-offs between them:
    • Material living conditions (income, consumption and material conditions)
    • Leisure and social interactions.
    • Economic security and physical safety.
    • Governance and basic rights.
    • Natural and living environment.
    Apr 13, 2023

    What are the 4 key data categories in collecting healthcare data? ›

    Claims data describe the billable interactions (insurance claims) between insured patients and the healthcare delivery system. Claims data falls into four general categories: inpatient, outpatient, pharmacy, and enrollment.

    What are the four common data that may be captured in a health record? ›

    Data types commonly extracted from EHRs and imported into registries are patient identifiers, demographics, diagnoses, medications, procedures, laboratory results, vital signs, and utilization events.

    Which type of database is most commonly used in healthcare? ›

    Relational Databases

    Mon states that the most common form of database used in healthcare is the relational database.

    How do you evaluate information sources? ›

    Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content.
    1. Where does the information come from?
    2. Are there other sources that verify the information? Is it supported by evidence?
    3. Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
    4. Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?

    How is the Internet a useful tool in the health care field? ›

    In clinical settings, the Internet enables care providers to gain rapid access to information that can aid in the diagnosis of health conditions or the development of suitable treatment plans. It can make patient records, test results, and practice guidelines accessible from the examination room.


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