“Diverticulitis is a condition in which diverticuli in the colon rupture. The rupture results in infection in the tissues that surround the colon” (MedicineNet, 2010, para. 1). Or at least that’s what MedicineNet. com states that it is. Sometimes what we find on the Internet isn’t as reliable as what we may think. Doing research and finding correct and reliable information is very important in the nursing practice. There is so much information available at our fingertips, but finding accurate information is sometimes a challenge and can be detrimental to patient care if the information found is inaccurate.
The purpose of this assignment is to evaluate the validity of three health websites. The first website that I will evaluate is MedicineNet. This site has been around since 1996 and is owned and operated by WebMD. “It provides easy-to-read, in-depth, authoritative medical information for consumers via its robust, user-friendly, interactive website” (MedicineNet, 2010, para. 1). The site does not have an author or director; rather it is controlled by qualified executives in the fields of medicine, healthcare, Internet technology and business and is “doctor-produced” by more than 70 physicians.
The site URL is www. medicinenet. com. The main office is in San Clemente, California and the corporate office is in New York City. In lieu of an email address, the website provides you with a contact page to submit your questions. This address is https://data. webmd. com/sdclive/SdcForm. aspx? FormId=MedNetContact. The website was last updated on November 19, 2010 so the information provided is up to date. WebMD will not accept Advertising that “is not factually accurate and in good taste” (MedicineNet, 2010, para. 3).
They determine the type of advertising that is acceptable to display on the site but they do not promote products or services. The site complies with the HONcode standard which is “an ethical standard aimed at offering quality health information. It demonstrates the intent of a website to publish useful, objective and correct data” (HONcode, 2010, para. 2). Knowing this and the fact that the website is governed by more than 70 physicians makes me believe that the information is correct and valid. The next website that I will examine will be Mayo Clinic.
I have used this site many times over the past year especially when doing research for my assignments and I have found it to be an amazing website. “Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of virtually every type of complex illness” (MayoClinic, 2010, para. 1). It was launched in 1995 and is created by a team of web professionals and more than 3400 physicians and scientists. Roger W. Harms, M. D. is the editor-in-chief and is also an obstetrician. He believes that helping to educate people about their health and providing the tools to live healthier lives is extremely important.
Mayo Clinic is owned by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research and their URL address is www. mayoclinic. com. They are located in Rochester, MN and their email address is mayoinfo@mayoclinic. com. As mentioned above under Medicine Net, Mayo Clinic also complies with the HONcode standard. They also support the Consumer Reports WebWatch guidelines to provide credible information on the Internet for its users. Like Medicine Net, Mayo Clinic will only allow certain types of advertising but under no circumstances will promote products or services.
There are three main websites associated with Mayo Clinic that provide information and services to the client. They are the (1) health information, (2) medical services and (3) the education and research websites. All of these are linked to the home page of mayoclinic. com. The website was updated November 19, 2010, so the information provided is current. For whatever diagnosis you’re looking to research, Mayo Clinic has it all. I believe that Mayo Clinic provides plenty of credible, appropriate and easy to understand information.
The site is very well organized and it is easy to move around the site. I believe this site to be a valid one because there is an ample amount of credibility with the standards that they follow and the information is provided by the expertise of many different types of physicians. I really can’t say enough about this site. The third site that I will evaluate is MedlinePlus. This site is the “National Institute of Health’s Web site for patients and their families and friends” (MedlinePlus, 2010, para. 1) and it is produced by the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
The website provides information on the latest treatments, information on drugs and supplements, definitions of words and you can also review certain medical videos. Dr. Donald A. B. Lindberg is the Director of the site and of the National Library of Medicine. He calls this site “a goldmine of good health information from the world’s largest medical library” (MedlinePlus, 2010, para. 3). It has extensive information from the National Institutes of Health and various trusted sources on over 800 diseases and conditions (MedlinePlus, 2010). Just like the other two websites that I have chosen, the site is not meant to provide medical advice.
Instead it provides consumers with information to better understand their health and any illness they may have. The site does not provide an address for MedlinePlus. However, the location for the NLM is Bethesda, MD. The URL address for MedlinePlus is http://medlineplus. gov and their email address for comments or questions is custserv@nlm. nih. gov. The website was last updated on November 19, 2010 so the information is current. Unlike the other websites listed above, there is no advertising on the site and they do not endorse any company or product.
Unlike the other two websites, MedlinePlus does not comply with the HONcode; however, the fact that the website is produced by the National Library of Medicine makes me believe that the information provided is valid. Diverticulitis can happen to anyone; however, the target audience for all three of these websites would be individuals 50 years of age and over. The information provided in these sites is an appropriate level for this target group and I would recommend either of these websites to this target group because they all have an abundant amount of accurate information regarding this disease.
They all explain the information in fairly simple language so that the average person can understand it and they are all very easy to access and manoeuvre around. Also, given the fact that none of these sites promote products or services and two of the sites only allow specific types of advertising, leads me to believe that there is no bias in place. In a world where technology has seemed to have taken over, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction. The trick is to be able to distinguish between the two and to decide whether what we read is reputable or not.
It is very easy to become overwhelmed by what we read or hear and sometimes we believe what we want to believe. However, when it comes to the nursing practice and the information that we gather regarding that, I believe that what we take from it is very important because it can have a positive or a negative effect on the outcome of patient care. Taking information from the first website that pops up is not always the best choice but if we know how to differentiate between a “good” site and a “bad” site, than the decisions that we make about that information will be more accurate and a lot more reliable.