Finding reliable information to make important decisions

The source or where information comes from matters. Here we provide some tips because when information is used to guide decisions about your health it is important that it is accurate and based on fact. It is also important that the person providing the information is an authority on the subject or that they have worked with qualified people to develop the content being provided. 

Accuracy

Anyone can make a website. Knowing whether the website can be trusted to provide accurate and reliable information is made easier if you:

  • Look for the HONcode sign. The Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct, HONcode, defines a set of rules to:
    • hold Web site developers to basic ethical standards in the presentation of information
    • help make sure readers always know the source and the purpose of the data they are reading.

HONcode can only be displayed by organisations who have been assessed and found to be credible and reliable.

  • Look whether the website clearly states where the information comes from. If it does then you can use this to check that what is written is accurate. If it doesn’t, then you can’t know whether it is fact or someone’s opinion.

Authority

Where information comes from can tell us something about the authority of the people who wrote the information and whether they are qualified. You should always make sure that people are qualified to give information about our health.

The first step is to identify who is responsible for the site. There are a few clues to look for:

  • Most websites have a statement at the bottom of the page or an About Us section with information about who they are, who they are associated with and how they are funded. Read this to learn more about who is providing the information.
  • Sometimes the last letters of the website address (domain name) can also tell you something about the organisation responsible for the website. Some examples are shown:
    • Education: .edu
    • Academic: .ac
    • Government: .gov
    • Organisation: .org
    • Commercial: .com
    • Network: .net
  • Knowing where the website developers are located can also help because information developed for situations and health and care systems similar to yours are likely to be the most relevant.
    • Australia: .au
    • United Kingdom: .uk
    • European Union: .eu
    • Canada: .ca
    • China: .cn

Good sources for health information 

If you are looking for more information, the websites below take special care to link you to good quality information. They also cover a broad range of topics.

Last updated 02 August 2021