October 6, 2021

How to find health information you can trust

Madison, Wis. – Experts at UW Health want to help the public find the best, most accurate information when it comes to health.

From personal protective equipment to surges, vaccines and variants, the pandemic has required everyone to take in a lot of new information and with that has come an unprecedented amount of misinformation.

There’s a lot of health information available at our fingertips, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between good advice, bad advice or truly harmful advice, according to Ann Lanham, nurse manager, Patient and Family Education Department, UW Health.

“Before you take information as fact from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or even Google, I encourage you to understand what makes a trustworthy source for your health,” she said.

With October being Health Literacy Month, Lanham offers the following best practices to the community when researching health and medical topics:

  • Check the source of the information

    • Make sure any health information you find online comes from a source you can trust, like a “.gov” website. Be wary of websites that promise a “miracle cure” or are trying to get you to buy a product or service.

  • Look for a recent publication date

    • Make sure the health information you’re reading isn’t too old. Look for information that has been published or updated within the last three years.

  • Do not use social media to find health advice

    • Social media is commonly used to spread misinformation from unreliable sources. Think about where that information is coming from and what the motive is behind that message.

  • Check out UW Health’s patient education materials

  • Lastly, talk with your doctor

    • Your doctor knows your health history and will always do their best to address any questions or concerns that you have.