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I’m very pleased to announce that Highlight HEALTH is now an HONcode accredited website.
As I wrote previously in The Trust and Credibility of Healthcare Blogs, I believe that when it comes to blogging about healthcare, trust and credibility are essential. One of the principle motivations for creating Highlight HEALTH was to develop a health resource that not only provided information on dietary supplements, nutrition and health news, but which presented evidence to support that information.
In both The Trust and Credibility of Healthcare Blogs and Healthcare Self-Management Suggestions for e-Patients, I wrote about the Health On the Net (HON) Foundation, a non-profit organization that is attempting to guide the growing community of healthcare providers and consumers on the World Wide Web to sound, reliable medical information and expertise through quality assessment and systematic and stringent peer review.
There are 8 principles of the HON Code of Conduct (HONcode):
- Authority – Indicate the qualifications of the author(s).
- Complementarity – Information should support, not replace, the doctor-patient relationship, which is the desired means of contact.
- Privacy – Respect the privacy and confidentiality of personal data submitted to the site by the visitor.
- Attribution – Cite the source(s) of published information, date and medical and health pages.
- Justifiability – The website must back up claims relating to benefits and performance.
- Transparency – Accessible presentation, accurate email contact of authors.
- Financial disclosure – Sponsorship should be transparent and funding sources identified.
- Advertising policy – Clearly distinguish advertising from editorial content.
The application process for HON accreditation is straightforward:
- Complete the HONcode questionnaire.
- The HONcode team will send you an email confirming receipt of your submission and visit your site for review.
- If your site meets HONcode standards, you’re finished (goto step 5). Otherwise, the HONcode team will email comments regarding modifications that need to be made to your site to comply with all 8 HONcode principles.
- Once the changes have been made, you reply to the HONcode team email indicating you’ve made the necessary changes. The HONcode team will then revisit your site to certify compliance.
- Once accepted, you will receive a unique HONcode identification active logo that you can add to the homepage of your website.
Complete instructions can be found here.
Although self-publishing of the HONcode logo has been criticized in the past , it was rebutted as exaggerated and out-of-date evidence , stating that:
All systems are vulnerable to abuse, but HON has a good record of quickly identifying and contacting most offenders. This is thanks to the sense of shared responsibility we encourage among Webmasters, information providers, and vigilant users of the health Internet.
Indeed, HON is the largest voluntary accreditation network on the Web with over 4,700 HONcode accredited websites that honor the standards for disclosure and responsibility in online medical publishing .
Eysenbach G. Towards ethical guidelines for e-health: JMIR theme issue on eHealth ethics. J Med Internet Res. 2000 Jan-Mar;2(1):E7.
Nater and Boyer. Debate about evaluation and monitoring of sites carrying the HON-Logo. J Med Internet Res. 2000 Apr-Jun;2(2):E13.
Boyer and Geissbuhler. A decade devoted to improving online health information quality. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2005;116:891-6.