Understanding research

How do I know the information about research I find online is reliable?

For many people, the internet is the go-to for research and information as you can access almost anything, instantly via a quick google search. It’s a great opportunity to check out what different sites have to offer and educate yourself about your lung disease, tips to self manage and live well or find out what research or clinical trials are available.

It is, however, important to know the information you are looking at is reliable and current. Working out which information is trustworthy is not always easy1. Some healthcare products or treatments may say they are ‘scientifically tested’ but this does not mean they are ‘scientifically proven’1.

Tips to finding credible information

  • Look at the web address and source of the information. Reliable health information websites are usually government sites and condition-specific sites such as not-for-profit or support organisation sites, as well as university or educational institutions. The ‘about us’ page generally tells you a little bit about who has set up the website.
  • Check the information provided is evidence-based and the content is referenced. Look for reputable medical research to back up the statements.
  • Ensure the information is up-to-date by looking at the date the information was last updated. This is usually visible at the bottom of the screen.
  • Always talk to your health professionals about any information you have seen online to ensure it is best suited to your personal needs and situation.

1 Better Health, 2015, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/finding-reliable-health-information