You may look for information about your health on the internet. This could be to: find out more information; find alternatives; get a second opinion; find support or to resolve conflicting information. You may also use the internet to look for information for other people.
Looking for online health information can be helpful or unhelpful. Online searching may make you feel:
- Reassured that you can make decisions
- Relieved or comforted by the information
- Confident to raise new questions or issues with your doctor
- Eager to share what you find
- Overwhelmed by the information
- Frightened by what you find
- Frustrated by lack of information
- Frustrated that you can't find what you are looking for.
There are good and bad things about health information found on the internet. It could lead to things like smoking less, finding social support and decreased anxiety. However, some people have been harmed as a result of reading bad advice, such as a man who died when he self-medicated for cancer.
The best advice for using the internet is:
- Be cautious of information you find
- Always talk to your health professional about your health
- Never use the internet for self-diagnosis, treatment or management
- Be critical of a website and ask: Is it trustworthy? Is it user friendly?
- Be wary of online products for sale
- Summarise the information you find and write down a short list of questions to discuss with your health professional.