Online health information: shortcomings and challenges
June 26, 2013
Health is a topic that affects everyone either through their own personal experiences or those of a family member, friend or work colleague, so it is not surprising to hear that there is increasing interest in online health information. For example, a national survey in 2013 into internet use in the United States showed that 59 per cent of people had searched for health information on the internet, and that six out of 10 respondents said the information they found online affected their decision about how to treat an illness or a medical condition. The downside is that there is a saturation of health topics and this makes it hard to maintain interest and also credibility, especially when many health stories promote contradictory advice. This paper provides a brief snapshot into the shortcomings of online health information and suggests some ways to improve both the content and its credibility.