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: Timeliness, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, 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.