In 2014, Dr. Mark A. Kelley, a faculty member of Harvard Medical School, developed the idea for HealthWeb Navigator while serving as a Harvard Advanced Leadership fellow. Partnering with NeedyMeds in 2016, HealthWeb Navigator has since published hundreds of website reviews. Today, HealthWeb Navigator is launching the full version of its collection of health website reviews written by doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.

“Patients are more informed now than ever before,” said HealthWeb Navigator founder Mark Kelley, M.D. “Unfortunately, many people make major healthcare decisions based on something they read online. The least we in the medical community can do is guide them to the best sources.”

A 2013 survey found that the average American spends an hour every week looking for health information online. In fact, it’s among the top ten most popular web activities, as common as checking the weather forecast or reading the news.

But studies show that health information available to web users is often inaccurate, complex, or hard to use. Searching Google for something as common as “headache,” for

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Over 70% of internet users go online to learn about their health. Research that a few decades ago only doctors could access can now be downloaded over Starbucks’ WiFi. And because the average doctor’s appointment lasts just 13–16 minutes, many see the internet as a free, convenient alternative to medical advice.

But convenience doesn’t come without costs.

Instant access to health information coincides with an increase in “cyberchondria,” or anxiety about poor health stemming from internet research. Worse, study after study shows online health content is frequently unreliable, inaccurate, or hard to read.

That’s why I want to use this post to teach you a simple test that can help you weed out bad health information online.

The T.R.A.A.P. framework asks you to examine five qualities of any information source: TimelinessRelevanceAuthorityAccuracy, and Purpose.

Any source with its salt will have each of one. Below we’ll look at them individually as well as some red flags to keep in mind.

5 Qualities of Reliable Health Information

“T” for Timeliness

Trustworthy websites review and update their content — and let their readers know.

It’s estimated

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This blog originally appeared on HealthWeb Navigator, a new site by NeedyMeds.  It has reviews of health-related websites to help you find the best, most medically reliable information. You can see the beta version of HealthWeb Navigator at www.healthwebnav.org.

 

What is HealthWeb Navigator and How Does It Work?

HealthWeb Navigator (HWN) directs you to health care websites that provide up-to-date and clear information. HWN resembles a guidebook that recommends the best places to visit on the Web.

Our staff constantly searches the Internet to find health care websites that appear useful to consumers. Our external review panel then evaluates any promising websites. These unpaid volunteers have backgrounds in health care, business, education, consumerism and patient advocacy.

Each website is scored by several reviewers on content, readability, usability and design. Based on this evaluation, the website is assigned a final rating of one to five stars.

Websites listed in HWN are constantly evaluated for content and maintenance of quality.

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