Finding Credible Health Information Online: MedLibs Round 1.8

Reading time: 9 – 14 minutes

Welcome to the eighth edition of MedLib’s Round, the monthly blog carnival that highlights some of the best writing on medical librarianship, encompassing all stages in the publication and dissemination of medical information: writing, publishing, searching, citing, managing and social networking.

There’s a revolution occurring on the Web: those “authoritative” articles written on traditional, static websites are being replaced with blogs, wikis and online social networks. In the sphere of health, medicine and information technology, this “real-time Web” consists of many who are professionals in the field; their posts are listed below.
In the digital age, these are the characteristics of new media: recent, relevant, reachable and reliable.

Here at Highlight HEALTH, we advocate health literacy for improving self-management in health. To that end, all the sites in the The Highlight HEALTH Network strive to consistently provide credible, reliable sources of health and medical information.

A 2008 study by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest found that searching for health information online can be dangerous, with search engine results pages dominated by websites that appeared legitimate but had zero medical authority [1]. Our hope is that this edition of MedLib’s Round — themed Finding credible health information online — will offer ideas and advice to help people use the Web more effectively to search and find credible health information.

Searching the Web for health information

Women’s Health News

Rachel Walden [@rachel_w on Twitter] reviews a story from CNN on savvy medical web surfing. She addresses each of the article’s tips for finding and assessing the quality of health information: “Tips for Savvy Medical Web Surfing” – A Critique.

Emerging Technologies Librarian

There are two major consumer health information websites supported by the U.S. government. Patricia F. Anderson [@pfanderson on Twitter] describes how she promotes Medline Plus and MedlinePlus vs. healthfinder: Must We Choose?

Our Bodies Our Blog

There’s literally millions of sites offering advice on health. Rachel Walden [@rachel_w on Twitter] explains how to evaluate the reliability of health information websites: Can You Trust That Health Website?

Musings of a Distractible Mind

There’s plenty of misinformation on the Web when it comes to health and medicine. Dr. Rob [@doc_rob on Twitter] speculates on why people choose unorthodox treatments and avoid science-based medicine. Indeed, Western medicine is Not Like Magic.

Laika’s MedLibLog

Guest author Eric Rumsey [@ericrumsey on Twitter] suggests several resources for Finding Skin Disease Pictures on the Web.

Significant Science

There are more ways to search for health and medical information that just PubMed or Google. Hope Leman [@hleman on Twitter] takes A TRIP Down Database Lane: A Talk with Jon Brassey.

Websearch Guide Internet News

Gwen Harris describes HealthMash – vertical search, the federated web search engine that combines Web 2.0 universal search and discovery technology with Semantic Web Concepts, providing personally relevant information from trusted health sites on the Web.

Alisha764’s Blog

Alisha [@alisha764 on Twitter] is troubled by the recent announcement of the FDA/WebMD partnership expansion. She explores “sponsored” posts and advertising for Health information: WebMD & the FDA?

Biomedical research

Emerging Technologies Librarian

Patricia F. Anderson [@pfanderson on Twitter] discusses systematic reviews, literature reviews that attempt to identify, evaluate, select and synthesize all high quality research evidence relevant to a single question: Systematic Reviews: Methodology, Overview, Sharing.

Laika’s MedLibLog

For evidence-based medicine to be implemented effectively, researchers, clinicians and patients have to communicate with each other. Guest author Janet Wale, member of the Cochrane Consumer Network, discusses the Role of Consumer Networks in Evidence-based Health Information.

Our Bodies Our Blog

Rachel Walden [@rachel_w on Twitter] offers some valuable tips for Understanding Medical Research — how to make sense of it and what it means for your health.

Next Generation Science

DeepDyve is a search engine designed to make scientific, technical and medical research more easily discoverable and accessible. Truly accessible. Next Generation Science [@NextGenScience on Twitter] reports that DeepDyve Offers Scholarly Literature Rental Service.

Web 2.0 tools

Dr Shock MD PhD

If you’re like Walter van den Broek [@DrShock on Twitter], having five e-mail accounts, a couple of websites, wikis, several calendars and address books, it’s hard to keep everything in sync. Dr Shock cites the advantages of cloud computing with Google Apps Tricks.

Life in the Fast Lane

Do you subscribe to RSS feeds? Are you using social media? Have you ever wished you could integrate everything into a single organized page? Mike Cadogan [@sandnsurf on Twitter] has the answer: Feed Me Feedly.

Knowledge beyond words

Providing a “Who”, “What” and “We like”, Valentin Vivier [@novoseek on Twitter] reviews 10+1 medical librarians blogs you should read.

Dr Shock MD PhD

PBworks offers powerful collaborative features, such as collaborative page editing, document management and file sharing. Walter van den Broek [@DrShock on Twitter] maintains that there’s a serious Rival for Google Wave: PBworks. Check out the video.

PubMed redesigned

Eagle Dawg Blog

Nicole S. Dettmar [@eagledawg on Twitter] posts a SlideShare presentation, quick help links, links to National Library of Medicine PubMed Q&A webinars and a video, all focused on the new PubMed interface. She asks PubMed: How Soon Is Now?

The Search Principle blog

Dean Giustini [@giustini on Twitter] highlights all the changes on the new PubMed interface and offers several useful links: The New PubMed Interface – Take 2.

Krafty Librarian

Michelle Kraft [@Krafty on Twitter] provides links to New PubMed Webinar Recordings from the National Network of Library of Medicine (NN/LM) Greater Midwest Region (GMR) on the new PubMed and its changes. Under each link, she summarizes questions asked by the participants. Additionally, she lists a number of things she learned as she’s listened to each of the recordings.

Using social media for health

Dose of Digital

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is holding a public hearing today and tomorrow to discuss issues related to the promotion of FDA-regulated medical products, including prescription drugs, biologics and medical devices using the Internet and social media. Jonathan Richman [@jonmrich on Twitter] provides a copy of the draft agenda listing companies and speakers. He also provides a link to the live webcast: FDA Public Hearing on Social Media Agenda and Speaker List Released.

Susannah Fox [@SusannahFox on Twitter] describes data on the quality measures of health information online. While three-quarters of health seekers don’t consistently check the source and data of online health information, only 6% of health sites reviewed even disclose information necessary to assess their quality. Susannah Fox petitions everyone providing insights at the FDA public hearing on Internet and social media: Tell the FDA the whole story, please.

Laika’s MedLibLog

Jacqueline [@Laikas on Twitter] presents the results of a recent poll asking how people prefer to organize a Google-spreadsheet of research journals and science news resources. With the introduction of Twitter lists, she provides Twitter Lists of Medical and Other Scientific Journals.

Highlight HEALTH

Highlight HEALTH [@HighlightHEALTH on Twitter] has also organized several Twitter lists, including a list of biomedical journals and cancer resources.

Emerging Technologies Librarian

To help disseminate information on the H1N1 influenza virus, Patricia F. Anderson [@pfanderson on Twitter] describes how to use iGoogle for Tracking Swine Flu.

Social media and participatory medicine

Kevin Clauson [@kevinclauson on Twitter], an academician focused on consumer health informatics and Web 2.0 from a pharmacy perspective, offers a presentation examining the role of Facebook and Twitter in pharmacy and the development of participatory medicine.


That concludes the eighth edition of MedLib’s Round. I hope the articles included in this edition provide useful strategies and resources for finding credible health information online.

The host of the next edition of MedLib’s Round will be Knowledge Beyond Words. Past and future hosts can be found on the MedLib’s Round blog carnival index page.

If you’d like to follow along with MedLib’s Round every month, subscription options are available: you can follow by email or RSS feed. An aggregated feed of credible, rotating health and medicine blog carnivals is also available. The Health and Medicine Blog Carnival Mashup can also be followed on Twitter @BioMedCarnivals and on FriendFeed (BioMedical Carnivals).

Are you a Twitter user? Tweet this!


  1. Goldberg et al. Insta-Americans: The Empowered (and Imperiled) Health Care Consumer in the Age of Internet Medicine. The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. 2008 Jan.
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.