There are those time-tested and quite hilarious jokes about a man or a dog walking into a bar. It’s a pretty bad segue but this blog thought started by a woman walking into a room. It was a waiting room in a doctor’s office and there was a cartoon poking fun at fishing through the world-wide web for health advice.
For those of us privileged to have ready access to the internet, we go there for all sorts of information and advice. When it comes to our health though it is a quagmire of information and websites. You can find someone who states they cured themselves by using a coffee enema or swears by a drug or swears the drug doesn’t work but chiropractic treatments are the answer. And it goes on and on.
Throughout our lives it’s important to stay active, engaged and to take care of ourselves. As we age, the odds are our health will change and there will be limitations and medical conditions that come with the territory. Yes there are credible websites and organizations you would tend to trust. But perhaps not as many as you might think. I have worked in health my entire career and for the better part of 20 years I worked in areas related to drug reviews and health technology assessment. While not a content expert I’ve worked with many who are and I have an understanding of the how/what/who of evidence based health information. I was very happy to see that McMaster University in London, Ontario launched an Optimal Aging portal recently. This short video tell you what you can expect if you access the portal.
Experts have reviewed information on a multitude of topics and they give you the straight goods on what the best available evidence spells out.
You can sign up for weekly email alerts or simply visit the portal and type in a topic. There are Recent Evidence Summaries that provide “Key messages from scientific research that’s ready to be acted on” and Recent Web Resource Ratings that are “Evaluations that tell you whether free health resources on the internet are based on scientific research”.
There is transparency on how they rate the web resources used. A five-star rating system gives you a perspective of how much evidence exists to support advice or recommendations. You’ll see if there is only one star beside the article, it means it is not an evidence based recommendation. They have listed a number of websites they have excluded (and why) in the their review of what’s available.
The McMaster Optimal Aging Portal focuses on the “older adult” and that may or may not be you….yet. If it isn’t you at this point, I’d suggest you tuck away the website information for the day it might come in handy. As my dear Aunt Edy said once “We all age at the same rate. One day at a time.”