Is the health news you are reading accurate?

An interesting article titled “Keeping up with the news: Separating fact from fiction,” appears in the Oct. 2015 issue of JADA and written by the American Dental Association (vol. 146, no. 10, pp. 792). The article encourages dental patients to make sure that they know the source they are receiving their news from is trustworthy. The article discusses a few things to look for to make sure this occurs. The article tends to focus on receiving information from websites.

If you are looking at a website, the first thing to look for is an about us section. This is because you want to know who is responsible for the article. It is good to know who pays for or sponsors the website. Also if you are looking at a website the domain name can give a hint. If it ends in .gov it is a government website, if it ends it .edu it is an educational institute website, or if it ends in .org it is usually a non-profit organization. These types of sites are generally more trustworthy.

The article states

“…[some websites] may have a particular position on a topic that causes them to slant the story in their favor. You may have to investigate your source to determine whether or not they are telling you all sides of the story.”

Another thing you want to know if you are visiting a website is what that website wants from you. The article suggests that you be cautious about providing your personal health information. You should look at the privacy policy section of a site to see better how the data is used. Further patients should question why the information is being made available. You should attempt to determine what the goal of providing the information, is as in if they want you to buy something or sign up for a certain cause.

The next tip provided is that you should see how current the information is on the web site is. Reliable web sites tend to give you a date on when the information is posted or reviewed. Another tip is to know where the web site is getting their information. It is useful to know if the article is based in research or if it is based off of some individual testimonials. Of course individual testimonials may not reflect the general population and as such are not very reliable.

The article states

“Most importantly, talk to your dentist or physician. Do not be afraid to tell them about new treatment options you may have read about or lifestyle changes you would like to try. Your health care providers often are knowledgeable about the science behind the story, but most importantly they are knowledgeable about you and your health care history.”

Patients are encouraged to work with their doctor or dentist to determine what information is most valuable to them. Overall, I think the article does a good job of telling patients how to better find useful health information to help improve their health conditions.

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