Almost 1 in 3 people said they were likely to search the internet for information about their symptoms before they visited their doctor, new research from NPS* has found.
During Be Medicinewise Week, NPS is urging people to ask the right questions about their health and medicines, so they get the information they need to make better informed decisions.
NPS Head of Programs Karen Kaye says that while there is a lot of information on the internet about medical conditions and the medicines to treat them, it can be difficult to find information you can trust.
“Some of the health information that can be found online is accurate, but some of it is not,” says Ms Kaye.
“The advantage of speaking directly with a health professional about your health questions is that they can take your individual circumstances into account when they provide advice.”
There are strategies people can use to help them decide if the medical or health information they find on the internet is what they need — accurate, unbiased and up to date.
“One medicinewise strategy is to use good sites that you can keep going back to, rather than searching the entire internet,” says Ms Kaye.
“Reading several different articles about a topic gives you different perspectives and a better likelihood of getting balanced information than just referring to one website.”
NPS has online information hubs on a range of health conditions and related medicines at www.nps.org.au/conditions.
People with questions about their medicines can also call Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424), Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm EST.
NPS has the following tips for those researching symptoms and treatments online:
- Use good-quality websites that are relevant, unbiased, evidence-based and up-to-date.
- Beware sites that offer revolutionary, new or miracle cures – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
- Discuss any information you find on the internet with your doctor or other health professional.
More information on being medicinewise when looking for information online is available at http://www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewise/medicinewise_choices