This year the National Awareness week promoting wiser and safer use of medicines is encouraging Australians to take charge of their health by being medicinewise and encouraging people to have a conversation about medicines by asking the right questions to the right people and following the right advice.

 Not all information available on the internet is reliable. The five questions suggested by the National Prescriber Service ( NPS) to help decide if the medical or health information is accurate, unbiased and up-to-date are:

 1. Who is providing the information?

  Is it clear who is providing the information and who is funding the website? If the website is run by a government authority, an independent body, a professional organisation or support body, the information is more likely to be reliable and good quality. Check the website and organisation linked is Australian as the information otherwise may not be relevant.

 2. Is the information biased?

  Sites providing information without selling a product are more likely to give more balanced advice. Websites provide information to sell a product or to share the theories from their contributors. Knowing the purpose of the website helps you judge the information provided.

3. Does it promise too much?

 The best evidence is based on evidence and not belief, and acknowledges that all treatments have positive and negative outcomes to be balanced. Warning signs to watch for include promises that the treatment will work for everyone, promises of instant cures, promises of miracle recoveries, words like breakthrough, secret ingredient and side-effect free and requests for payment.

4. Is the information up-to-date?

 Look for the dates on the web pages, particularly regarding treatment

5. Are the links of good quality?

 Most websites link to other sites. Check the links and you assess the links to be of good quality it reflects well.

MedicineList+ app is a good tool to help better manage medicines. The app can be used to set reminders and record important information about your medications. The app also helps keep all your information together to ensure that everyone involved in your healthcare knows what medicines you take.

Useful references are:

Health on the Net

HealthInsite:How to assess health information online

MedlinePlus guide to Healthy Web Surfing 

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