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Health information: what can we trust?

9th July 2021 // Alice Baron

COVID-19 has highlighted how difficult it is to know what information can be trusted. News and evidence changes and develops at an incredible rate making it a challenge to pick through the increasing number of articles and stories available.

It’s normal to want to find out about a health condition, especially new or lesser known diseases like COVID-19 or myeloma, but, as many of us will be, feeling anxious and vulnerable can make it harder to sort the fact from the fiction.

In addition, most of us will get our information online, but putting any health condition into a search engine brings up a seemingly endless list of results that range from so-called ‘miracle cures’ to baffling jargon. So, how can we determine what’s true and reliable information, and what’s just trying to get our attention?

What’s good health information?

Good health information should be empowering. Clear, relevant and accurate, it allows us to understand conditions, communicate better with our healthcare teams and find ways to self-manage what we can. It has the power to reassure and alleviate worries, while helping us to live well.

What’s bad health information?

Bad health information can come in many guises. Sometimes it’s opinion made to seem like fact, extreme claims based on misinterpretation of data, or advice that has long been out of date. Not only does it make us ill-informed, but bad health information has the power to do damage and can potentially make health concerns worse.

We all need to be aware of what we’re taking in and weigh up whether it’s helpful or harmful.

How can I tell what’s good health information?

When you’re looking at health information, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does it seem too good to be true?

2. Does anywhere else back up the facts it presents?

3. Does it use extreme or inconsistent language?

4. Is it trying to make me feel angry or shocked?

5. Is it from a reputable source?

6. Is it full of hard to understand jargon?

7. Can I find out who wrote it and where their evidence is from?

8. Is there a quality or accreditation mark visible?

Our information

Myeloma UK is committed to bringing you accurate, up-to-date and relevant information to empower you to live well with your diagnosis. We work hard to look at the evidence available and present it in a clear and easy to understand way. We work with medical experts and ensure our in-house processes follow best practice so you can be confident that our information is trustworthy, clear and evidence-based. A number of our publications have even won awards, so we must be doing something right!

We want to hear from you

I encourage you to get in touch with us with your feedback and suggestions about our information by emailing us or filling in our quick online survey at myeloma.org.uk/pifeedback. We use your feedback to improve what we do; so that, in a world of fake news and uncertainty, we can keep producing clear, accurate and reliable health information that meets your needs.

Alice Baron

Head of Patient and Carer Information and Support

P.S. Don’t forget you can find all our COVID-19 information on our hub and download all our publications here.