When health literacy needs information literacy

Todd Vandenbark

While searching for posts on #healthliteracy on Twitter, I found several feeds that tweeted or re-tweeted about an online “health literacy quiz” from a company called HealthEd. Below is the quiz:

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While this quiz appears to be well-researched and informative, is it from an organization committed to providing reliable health information on the Web? Looking at HealthEd’s website, none of the people listed on its “Leadership” page have an M.D. or medical Ph.D. degree (at the time of this writing).

Information literacy includes having the skills to evaluate online information to determine its accuracy, relevance, source, etc. One way to do this is to apply the C.R.A.A.P. Test: try to determine the information’s:

  • Currency: timeliness of the information.
  • Relevance: importance of the information for your needs.
  • Authority: source of the information.
  • Accuracy: reliability, truthfulness, and correctness of the informational content.
  • Purpose: reason the information exists.

Logo for the Health On The Net FoundationOne way to sort through the tsunami of health information is to look for the HONcode logo (at left). The Health on the Net Foundation “was founded to encourage the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals and the general public, and to facilitate access to the latest and most relevant medical data through the use of the internet. The HONcode certification is an ethical standard aimed at offering quality health information. It demonstrates the intent of a website to publish transparent information. The transparency of the website will improve the usefulness and objectivity of the information and the publishment of correct data.”

Other sites that can provide reliable health information include MedlinePlus, major academic medical institutions, and other trusted sources.

What reliable online resources for medical information do you use? Tell us about it!