I wrote this post for my mom. You can share it with your mom too.
My mom texted me before she was even to her car. “My doctor says I have prediabetes.”
I knew that as soon as my mom was home, she would turn to her computer for information, just like 59% of US adults who reported in a Pew research survey that they had looked online for health information in the past year . I also knew that my mom often got information from Facebook. But one study from 2011 showed that almost one-third of Facebook posts in several large groups on diabetes management were actually ads for non-FDA-approved products presented as “testimonials” .
For my mom and yours, then, here is a list of 5 places to start: 5 websites with reliable health information.
MedlinePlus is hosted by the US National Library of Medicine, “the world’s largest medical library.” Click on “Health Topics” to find information on a particular disease. To find information for my mom, I clicked on “diabetes mellitus” under “Disorders and Conditions.” This site is useful if you have a specific search term in mind, because it sorts information under subject headings just as if you were looking for a book in the library.
2. Mayo Clinic
The site of the nonprofit Mayo Clinic is staffed by medical editors in specialties ranging from allergic diseases to urology. From the main Patient Care and Health Information page, I go to “Diseases and conditions” and select “prediabetes” under P. What I like best about the Mayo site is how large arrows at the bottom of each page guide you through a series of articles from symptoms to preparing for your appointment to self-management.
3. National Cancer Institute
This government site is stocked with abundant resources for both patients and caregivers. You can search for more than 100 types of cancer by the cancer’s location in the body or by the cancer’s name.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC is about more than flu. Start with the “Diseases & Conditions” tab for information on diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and more. Want some statistics? The CDC is your source. I found out that about 86 million Americans have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t even know it .
5. Association websites for a particular disease
Most diseases have a professional association devoted to education, advocacy, and research. These websites (which usually end in .org) not only have helpful information for patients but often can connect you with an online community for support. For example, The American Diabetes Association is a place to learn about diabetes myths, get recipes, and take political action. You can find the ADA (under the “Specific Health” link) and 99 other reliable sites on a list maintained by the Medical Library Association. The latest Top 100 List: Health Websites You Can Trust was updated in September 2015 (this is also a useful list for medical writers).
Bookmark these 5 sites and search them first for trusted health information.
1. Fox S. Health and Technology in the U.S. Pew Research Center website. http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/12/04/health-and-technology-in-the-u-s/. Published December 4, 2013. Accessed January 21, 2017.
2. Greene JA, Choudhry NK, Kilabuk E, Shrank WH. Online social networking by patients with diabetes: a qualitative evaluation of communication with Facebook. J Gen Intern Med. 2011;26(3):287-292. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-010-1526-3.
3. Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/diabetes.htm. Page last updated July 25, 2016. Accessed January 21, 2017.