Locating and Evaluating Health and Medical Information
Remember you can always Ask a Librarian
We are here to help whenever you need us!
We will work with you one-on-one to help you locate any information you want.
Four Ways to do your own health research:
1. Search the Library Catalog at https://plymc.bibliocommons.com/
Type the health topic, such as a specific disease or disorder for which you want information
2. Browse the 600s Health Shelves in the library where you will find books, such as:
610 – Medical Dictionaries and Encyclopedias
611 – Human Anatomy (Where is my heart in my body?)
612 – Human Physiology (the body’s systems – How does my digestive system work?)
613 – Nutrition, Diet and Exercise
614 – First Aid and How to Avoid Infections and Diseases
615 – Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications, and Addiction
616 – Diseases and Disorders
617 – Surgery and Medical Tests
618 – Pregnancy, Pediatrics and Geriatrics
619 – Veterinary Medicine (for your pets)
3. Use the Library’s Online Health Resources
- Go to the Library Home Page: https://www.libraryvisit.org/
- Scroll to Research and Click: Online Resources
- On the left, Click: Health Resources
4. Try the Internet using a search engine, such as Google
- Note: be careful and check your results
- Most trustworthy website domain is .gov
- .com sites are commercial, they want to sell products
- .org are often nonprofit, but often have ads
(Source: IFLA-How To Spot Fake News)
Checking Health Information from books, magazines, TV news or online websites
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Does the story only claim the benefits? Does it quickly run through the list of side effects?
- What about the cost of the procedure, product or treatment?
- Does the story report about a “simple screening test”? If it does, that should raise a red flag as there are no “simple screening tests”.
- More is not necessarily better when it comes to health care.
Three tests to use when looking at health information:
- Currency: The timeliness of the information
- Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs
- Authority: The source of the information
- Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the content
- Purpose: The reason the information exists
- Source: Who or what is the source?
- Motive: Why do they say so?
- Authority: Who wrote the story?
- Review: Go over the story carefully
- Two-source test: Double check everything if possible
ABCs of Website Evaluation (which also applies to books and magazine articles):
- Accuracy: Is the Information based on sound medical research? Is it based on fact?
- Authority: Who is the author? What are their credentials?
- Bias/Objectivity: Who is the sponsor?
- Currency/Timeliness: Check the date
- Coverage: Is the information comprehensive?
Great websites to learn more about evaluating health information:
- Evaluating Internet Health Information
- HealthNewsReview Toolkit for Journalists and Consumers
- How to Read Health News
- Know the Science
- Trust It or Trash It?
- Ad Detector (Chrome, Firefox)
- Media Bias Fact Check Icon (Chrome, Firefox)
- NewsGuard (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari)
Choosing Health Apps Chart:
While libraries and librarians provide access to medical information, librarians are not medical professionals and cannot provide medical advice. This information is intended to provide a broad overview of health care topics; and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your physician or other health care provider. The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County does not recommend the self-management of health problems. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.