Critique of Health Related Information Sources

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Critique of Health Related information sources

Abstract
Background - The internet is a vast source of information containing over 70 000 health related sites and discerning credible sites can often be a challenging task. It is important however so that reliable information can be obtained. Methods – A series of critique questions were devised to determine the credibility of a health based online journal article and health based website. Questions were determined according to guidelines based on accuracy, links to authority, current relevance, scope of coverage, objectivity and design of each source advised by Hendrix and Winters (2001) [2]. Findings - Journal Article; was deemed a credible source coming from a peer reviewed journal with many credible references and no apparent bias or conflict of interest. The main author had significant authority and relevance in the given field and discussions were examined in depth. Most limitations are accounted for though no mention was made regarding possible complications of using slightly out dated data. Findings – Website; was deemed a non-credible source according the critique questions. Very few authors could be linked to articles and most articles were associated with product promotion indicating high levels of bias. While articles were maximum 4 years old, no references were made to original findings and therefore age and accuracy of data could not be confirmed. Conclusion – keeping in mind critiquing criteria is important when discerning any information sourced from the internet whether it is peer-reviewed or not as this does not guarantee 100% credibility. The website chosen was relatively easy to discern. More thought and critical thinking would be required to discern more popular health websites.

Introduction
Websites can be created by anyone with access to a computer and internet [1] and are subject too misleading or incorrect information whether accidentally or maliciously [2]. There are over 70 000 health-related websites available [3] the form of journals, websites, blogs, other social media, the list goes on. As a health professional, one needs to be aware of the extensive amounts of new and existing research available over the internet, but also how to evaluate, discern and decide which information is reliable.

Deciding the credibility of a website is not always straight forward. Research shows that even credible websites may not necessarily always provide highly accurate health information [4]. A study found internet to be a desirable medium used by collage students with 74% of participants obtaining health information from the internet via websites such as Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and health.com [5]. Some of these sites may seem reputable but are not subject to peer-reviewing. Information subject to peer-review, such as online journals, is significantly more likely to be credible and contain reliable information [6].

The aim of this report is to evaluate and critique, two health related internet sources, a journal article ‘Energy density of foods and beverages in the Australian food supply: influence of macronutrients and comparison to dietary intake’ [7] and a website ‘Goodhealth.com’ [8]

Methods
Sources were critiqued based on criteria adapted from Hendrix and Winters (2001) [2]. Detailed questions were answered in regards to the following topics; accuracy, links to authority, current relevance, scope of coverage, objectivity and design of each source. This information was then critically analysed to determine the reliability and credibility of each source.

Findings
Journal Article – Energy density of foods and beverages in the Australian food supply: influence of macronutrients and comparison to dietary intake. [7]

This article explores the relationship between energy density and the percentage of energy as fat, carbohydrate or percent water weight of individual foods and beverages listed in the 1999 Australian Food and Nutrient Database...
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