Resources

This list of Internet resources is selective and limited to those sites the Library staff has found useful. Inclusion of a site does not imply the Library or Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center endorses its content. Remember, just because something appears on the Internet that does not mean the material is reliable. Read the article "Evaluating Internet Health Information" for tips on finding the best health information.

American Heart Association
Official web site of the American Heart Association, includes information on heart disease, prevention, heart-healthy recipes.

Arthritis Foundation
Official web site of the Arthritis Foundation, includes information on the different types of arthritis, latest treatment options, selected articles from Arthritis Today magazine.

CancerNet Cancer Information
Gateway to current and accurate cancer information from the National Cancer Institute

CAPHIS Top100
A list of recommended health sites from the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section (CAPHIS) of the Medical Library Association. 

eatright.org
Website from the American Dietetic Association. Provides factual information from experts on food, nutrition and health. Includes tips on food safety, ways to combat childhood obesity and reviews of current diet books.

Food and Drug Administration
Drug approval announcements, news releases and recalls from the FDA

HealthFinder
A gateway to consumer health and human services information with resources on a wide range of health topics selected from over 1,600 government and non-profit organizations.

MAYOClinic.com
An easy to search  site with timely and authoritative information from the Mayo Clinic.

MedlinePlus.gov
An excellent place to start your search for accurate and timely health information. MedlinePlus is the National Institutes of Health's Web site for patients and their families and friends, produced by the National Library of Medicine.

Mental Health Net
The website’s mission is to promote mental health and wellness education and advocacy. It provides information on many mental health conditions, links to a therapist search and support community.

National Women's Health Information Center
A service of the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health and Human Services; it provides a gateway to many Federal and other women's health information resources.

NOAH: New York Online Access to Health
Contains accurate, current and unbiased full-text health information for consumers in both English and Spanish.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center Health Information Library 
Provides information on diseases and conditions that include signs, symptoms, causes, risk factors, when to seek medical advice, screening and diagnosis, complications, treatments and  prevention; links to our specialists who treat each condition.

PubMed

Provides free access to MEDLINE, NLM's database of citations and abstracts in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, health care systems, and preclinical sciences.

QuackWatch Home Page
Contains full-text articles on questionable alternative health therapies; advice for consumers on avoiding "quacky" sites.
 

Disclaimer

Information provided by the Community Health Information Library does not imply medical recommendation or endorsement. The information provided should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider.

Evaluating Health Information on the Internet

Unlike information found in medical textbooks, which has been evaluated and edited by professionals, the information on the Internet is unfiltered. It is up to the user to evaluate and judge how good the information really is. When looking for health information it is particularly important to think about the information critically and examine the Web site carefully. Listed below are some questions and tips to think about when searching for good health information on the Internet.

What type of site is it? Is it a government site, educational or commercial? Look at the web address for the extension. The most common are .gov for government, .edu for educational, .com for commercial and .org for organizational.

Who is sponsoring the site? A good Web site will make sponsorship information clear. There should also be an address (besides an e-mail address) or a phone number to contact for more information.

What are the credentials of the sponsor or author of the material on site? If it is an organization or association, is it nationally recognized or is it a local group? Also, are the author's qualifications relevant to the topic being discussed? For example, someone with a Ph.D. in psychology should not necessarily be accepted as an expert on nutrition.

What is the purpose of the site? Is it a public service or is it trying to sell something? If there is advertising on a page, something that is more and more common even with non-commercial sites, it should be clearly separated from the informational content. Also, it is easy to disguise promotional material as "patient education" on web sites. If a product or treatment is given a good review on one site, try to find other sites that also approve of it.

How current is the information? A good site will list when a page was first established and when it was last up-dated. If there are links to other sites, are they up-to-date?

How accurate is the information? This can be hard to determine if you're not familiar with a topic but there are some things to look for. For example, is the information free of spelling errors and typos? Mistakes of these kind can indicate a lack of quality control. Are the sources of factual information listed? For instance, if a document states, "recent studies indicate...", are the sources for the study listed so they can be verified? If a topic is controversial, is the information presented in a balanced way? There are many controversies in regard to treatment options; however, a good site will present the pros and cons of a particular option. Be cautious with sites that claim "miracle cures" or make conspiracy claims.

Evaluate each site separately. Links can often lead from a good site to ones of lesser quality.

Look for awards or certificates that a site has received. For example, the HON Code logo is displayed by sites that have agreed to abide by eight principals set by the Health on the Net Foundation. These principles set standards for accuracy, bias, sponsorship and confidentiality. When using a directory or search engine that rates sites, read the page that discusses what criteria are used to determine a site's rating.

The Internet is a wonderful source of information and, when used carefully, can be very helpful in answering health-related questions. But the information found on the Internet should never be used as a substitute for consulting with a health professional. And, whenever using the Internet, keep in mind the caveat, "It is so easy to post information on the Internet that almost any idiot can do it, and almost every idiot has."