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CyberCautions

The NNPDF has set up links to many health-related sites on the Internet. In choosing these sites, we have tried to select responsible institutions that are likely to provide reliable, accurate, current medical information.

Unfortunately, not all of the health-related sites you’ll find on the Internet are reliable – some information may be outdated, misleading, or simply incorrect; some sites may be run by people with limited medical backgrounds; some sites are outright fraudulent.

There are several questions you can ask to get an idea if the healthcare/medical information you find is legitimate:

Where does the information come from?
If the information is retrieved from an established medical institution, like a hospital, university, government organization, or well- known nonprofit group, it’s more likely to be reliable than information you get from sources without credentials.

Does the site reflect more than one opinion?
Quality sites often reflect more than one perspective. This is especially important when the site deals with more specific topics. Few responsible organizations would claim to be the only source of information on a topic.

How often is the information updated?
If a site hasn’t been modified in several months, it might be an indication that the information it contains is outdated. The site should be updated at least monthly.

Specific topics within a site may not be updated that often (sometimes there isn’t anything new to say). But the fact that the site is updated regularly implies that the specific topics have been reviewed and updated as needed.

Does the site promote products or procedures?
You should be particularly cautious when you see sites that promote specific products, use testimonials as evidence, or try to sell you something. At the very least, look for other sources to confirm the information you find at such sites.

Does the information contradict prevailing opinion?
Be suspicious of sites that dismiss mainstream science, attack established medical policy, offer diagnosis over the internet, or are based on “one of a kind” studies.

Most of all, use common sense. If you have questions about the reliability of the information you find, check with your doctor before acting on it.