Margaret Polaneczky is a board certified obstetrician-gynecologist and Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Medical' College of Cornell University in New York City. Her writing offers an unbiased, non-commercial source to help women make sense of the conflicting, confusing and voluminous health information available in the current digital era. She blogs at The Blog that Ate Manhattan and you can follow her on Twitter @tbtam.
Site Jabber, a website funded by the National Science Foundation to help internet users separate the scams and frauds from real content, called and asked me for advice on how to find good medical content on the web. The interview reads like a huge promotion for my blog, something I was not expecting and for which I thank them profusely.
The kernels of advice I gave were pretty simple, though. If you want good health advice
- Know who's funding the site you're viewing. The 'About us' section is a good place to start. If it's a disease-specific site, it may be an 'awareness campaign' funded by Big Pharma, the first step in marketing a new drug.
- Avoid any site that is selling a product (ie, bioidentical hormones, vitamins, supplements, cure-alls); and
- If you see a big celebrity spokesperson, be wary. With a few notable exceptions (like Gilda's Club for Ovarian cancer info, or Stand Up to Cancer), only' Big Pharma can afford that kind of marketing (eg., Sally Field for Boniva and Bob Dole for Viagra). Check the About Us section of any website to be sure it's non-commercially funded info before you plunge in.
- Watch for site-morph ' that's when a non-profit health site (eg, Livestrong.org) spawns a for-profit site (eg, livestrong.com), or when health experts morph to health celebrities, and a once reliable medical site turns into yet another lifestyle destination site with products to sell you.
Site Jabber is a great resource for web users, and was recently named one of the top 100 websites by PC Magazine. I encourage you to visit them and see for yourself.