Monday 18 March 2013

Health Information Online – The HONcode Symbol

We are surrounded by an avalanche of information when it comes to our health.   Naturally we want to be able to find out about our symptoms or conditions on our own time and there are plenty of tools out there for us to use. 

The library hosts a health and wellness database, and Nova Scotia has a dedicated health line  (just dial 811 and you can speak to a registered nurse);  and of course there is always the Internet waiting for your question.  The Internet is often the route that most people take.
If you want to do your own research and want to be sure about the quality of their information, here is a little tip.   There is a Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to the provision of quality health information.   It is called the Health on the Net Foundation . 

They provide certification using the HONcode  symbol  to websites that meet and follow a specified code of conduct with regards to health information. When you are surfing the internet and see that symbol on the webpage you will immediately know that certain evaluation criteria were met.  This means you don't have to spend extra time investigating the credentials of each website yourself.

Another shortcut that is offered is the HONcode search page which will search your terms and only retrieve information from HONcode certified sites.  This narrows your results eliminating a lot of searching on your part.  This is not to say that there is not good information on other sites that did not seek certification only that the sites retrieved did.  You will find that most well known health sites have this symbol on their page.

It is important that when you are looking into any medical problem you get current and reliable information.   We want to help you find it whether you use our databases or investigate on your own.   Hopefully this tip will help provide you with the right information before your next visit to your health care provider. 

--Patricia Milner, Head of Reference

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