Healthy Life: Credible websites for health information

Lisa Finley
Lisa Finley

In last month's column, I shared my thoughts about patient advocacy as a core shared value among licensed healthcare professionals. Continuing that theme, it's helpful for patients and consumers to be aware of organizations and websites that offer credible health information so they may fully explore their treatment options with the members of their healthcare team.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a section of its website devoted to consumers at The FDA also offers the option of regular consumer updates via email by registration at

When trying to make healthcare decisions, it's helpful to make a list of questions before discussing your treatment options with your healthcare provider. Health literacy is an element of patient advocacy, and the FDA offers a resource to help patients and healthcare professionals better communicate about the choices available to them. Check out "Making Decisions for Your Health: Getting the Info You Need" at

Healthcare professionals and patients may also search the Cochrane Library, a global network and collection of six databases containing different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making. One may search by topic to research any healthcare-related question at Cochrane also offers information specifically geared to consumer needs, including Consumer Network Newsletters at consumers at

Medline Plus is a health news resource sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library. You can sign up for email updates or search your desired topic at

In my area of dietetics practice - medical weight management - I'd encourage consumers to review the Obesity Action Coalition's website, which offers information for individuals who are struggling with excess weight and associated medical problems. Check out their resources at

The Federal Trade Commission offers tips and advice to protect healthcare consumers on their website at Unfortunately, health, wellness and fitness are also areas of potential fraud and deception; savvy consumers will be sure to do some research on this website.

Last, be sure to discuss your questions and concerns with one or more trusted healthcare professionals. Many healthcare providers are quite skilled and knowledgeable in their developed area of expertise and will be able to discuss the nuances of clinical care for individuals, in addition to the resources for evidence-based clinical decision-making.

Patient advocacy efforts by healthcare professionals and organizations will include health literacy efforts along with providing guidance on navigating the internet for credible information. These skills are more important than ever, and I hope these resources will be a "recipe" for success in exploring and discussing treatment options with your healthcare team members.

Lisa L. Finley, RD, LD is the program coordinator for the Weight Management Center at Jefferson City Medical Group.

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