Cancer information is available from many sources. How can you decide what is true and what is not? It is often difficult to know which information is accurate, and which information sources can be trusted. Here are a few tools we use to decide if the information we’ve found is reliable.
Assessing online information
Social media and other internet sources are valuable and easily accessible resources for many of us to find answers to our questions. Following is summary of the benefits and disadvantages of using the internet for health information:
Doing your own fact-checking
How can you sift through the massive amounts of information and pick out what is accurate and reliable? Here are a few steps to consider:
Read beyond the title: Read the entire article to find out what the article is really saying. Do not fall for dramatic and shocking titles.
Who wrote it?
What are the author’s credentials and reputation? What other work do they do? Who pays them? Are they trying to sell something?
Who published it?
Is the sponsor of the information well known and trusted? Is the information coming from a for-profit company? (See a list of reliable sources)
Is it fact or opinion?
Does the author have legitimate expertise in the area and present data, or is the article centered around opinions? Are reliable sources being cited? (See a list of reliable sources)
How recent is the article?
Older articles may have outdated information. If you are not sure, look for more recent articles.
Is it a scam?
Does the information lead you to a third-party website? Are they asking you to buy something or provide personal information? Is it a sponsored post or an advertisement?
Double-check: Verify the claims of the article by finding a second independent reliable source of information. (See a list of reliable sources)
Writing style: There should not be grammatical or spelling errors. The writing should have a clear style and be professionally edited.
The CARE checklist
The CARE checklist is another way to determine which sources are reliable and which are not:
Take CARE when viewing information: