The internet is awash with information for the public on health and medicine.
For example, typing ‘cancer’ into Google can bring you hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of results – covering everything from scientific papers to posts on Twitter.
So where do you start? And how do you know that information you find on the web is reliable? Is it based on scientific evidence or just someone’s opinion?
Unfortunately some information is presented as fact when it really isn’t. This can be very misleading – and also distressing – for people looking for support in coping with a serious condition.
Despite this, a large proportion of cancer patients seek out online information, as reported in the British Journal of Cancer today.
Recognising this, for the past few years the Department of Health has been developing a ‘quality mark’ for health and social care information. Their programme aims to help the public in assessing which information sources are credible and reliable.
The team that runs Cancer Research UK’s patient information website – CancerHelp UK – has been involved in this work for a decade. We’ve made sure we are at the forefront in this area, because we feel so passionately that people with cancer deserve the best information and support.