There may be a number of options available to you when making decisions about your health or if you need to manage or treat a condition. Which option is best needs careful assessment by you in consultation with your doctor. There are a number of factors and questions it is worthwhile considering when assessing a health care decision:
|Others||How will your decision affect your family or partner?|
|Next steps||Do you need counselling to assist you to put your decision into action?|
Internet health information
The internet gives women access to health information and education tools. The internet offers the opportunity to:
- get more information about a diagnosed condition
- get more information about a medical treatment
- search for alternative treatments
- seek support from others who have the same condition
- look for patient support programs
To assist you to make decisions about your health, you need to be able to assess which website offers the more reliable information.
Website reliability checker
To assess which organisations and websites offer more reliable information, you can check a website against the following criteria:
|Assessment question||Indicators the website is less reliable||Indicators the website is more reliable|
|Who owns the website?||
||The website is a government health website e.g. Better Health Channel, Healthdirect Australia or a not-for-profit website.|
|Why has the website been created?||
||The focus of the website is information, education and access to further resources about health conditions.|
|How easy is it to understand the information?||The information seems confusing with a lack of attention to detail and accuracy.||The information seems clear, accurate and authoritative.|
|Is the information up to date?||
||The website identifies the date the content was last reviewed and updated and that was less than 2 years ago.|
|How reputable is the source of information?||
|Is the information supported by evidence-based practice?||
Recommendations for the management or treatment of a health condition are not supported by references to medical research about the effectiveness of the treatment.
Recommendations for the management or treatment of a health condition are supported by references to medical research about the effectiveness of the treatment.
*The HONcode is a code of ethics used by a website to provide the public with quality, objective and transparent medical information.
Ask your doctor
The internet is a great source of information to help you manage or research a condition or treatment but it is not reliable for self-diagnosis or self-treatment of a health problem. If you have symptoms that worry you, if you are not sure about the reliability of the information you have found on the internet or if you find medical information you think is relevant to you, seek advice from your doctor.
Choosing a doctor or other health professional
Ideally, you need a health professional you can talk to and you can trust to give you good advice. Asking the following questions might assist you to assess whether your doctor is the right choice for you:
|Choosing your health professional|
Appointments with doctors & other health professionals
It is not always easy to make a relationship work especially if people are time poor, unfocused or do not have the information they need and want from each other. This awareness applies to relationships with health professionals too. There are easy things you can do to help ensure your doctor and you have constructive conversations.
|Making health appointments work|
Take a list of:
Further information is available
- on Healthdirect Australia - practical tips and advice to assess health information online
- in the National Health and Medical Research Council statement on ethical conduct in human research (updated September 2009)
This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at February 2014.