Ten Reliable Sources of Health Information on the Web

Have you ever gone to a doctor’s office armed with information pertinent to your illness that you’ve gleaned from the web, only to have him (or her) do the eye roll that seems to send the message: “I don’t have time for this?”

That may be changing. Everywhere these days, it seems the health care system is stressed. Doctors are pressed for time, visits are getting shorter and less frequent.  It behooves all of us–especially those of us who suffer from chronic illness–to stay informed. Some doctors are realizing that patients can be effective monitors and scouts–if they can fish out the reliable sources from the flotsam of information–and misinformation–that’s floating out there on the web.

In a big departure from eye rolling, my healthcare network (John Muir in northern California) recently issued a list of reliable sources for patients who want to learn more about their health.  I have used many of these for years, with good results.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – One of the best government websites on the Internet.  Good source of info on disease prevention and control. Essential (in my view) for overseas travelers. Also covers emergency preparedness, environmental health, occupational safety and health.
  2. Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center – Information on over 900 health topic. Includes podcasts and web chats and health questions answered by physicians.
  3. Familydoctor.org – Articles written by members of the American Academy of Family physicians. Includes a medical dictionary, health calculators, conditions A to Z and more.
  4. Healthfinder – Developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Healthfinder links to carefully selected websites from more than 1,500 health-related organizations.
  5. John Muir – Includes multimedia library, health tools and (for local residents) “find a physician,” and calendar of events and classes.
  6. KidsHealth.org – KidsHealth is the most-visited site on the web for information about children’s health that’s “free of doctor-speak.”
  7. Mayo Clinic – Library of information on diseases and conditions, healthy living guides, health tools, treatment decision guides, and an “ask a specialist” feature.
  8. Medline Plus – A gold mine of good health information from the world’s largest medical library. Info on over 800 diseases and conditions, directories, medical encyclopedia, illustrated medical dictionary, drug information, links to clinical trials, interactive health tutorials, and health information in more than 40 languages.
  9. National Cancer Institute – Extensive information on types of cancer, treatments, drugs, statistics, clinical trials. Also has a telephone help line, live online chat, and email.
  10. NOAH: New York Online Access to Health – NOAH provides access to high-quality consumer health information (in English and Spanish). Arranged both alphabetically and by body site, it includes a search a search feature to guide users to the topics they need to see.

The message here is: There are many reliable sources of medical information on the web. It’s up to us, as patients, to keep abreast of the latest developments that affect our particular health situations. That way, we can serve as an extra pair of eyes and ears for our doctors. And, we can be more effective advocates for ourselves and our families.

I’m pleased that my own health network is realizing that and inviting my participation.

What’s been your experience using the web as a source of health information? 

What responses have you had from your doctors?

Do you have other reliable sources not mentioned here?