Evaluating Information using G.A.T.O.R.
In this increasingly digital age, endless information on health and healthcare is at our fingertips. With access to a great wealth of knowledge comes the difficult task of evaluating that information to avoid bad or incomplete advice and information. Even the most tech and health savvy person can be fooled by well-crafted websites and professional writing. Publishers of the sites are responsible to keep the information accurate, up to date, and unbiased. Unfortunately, this is not done by many (if not most) health information publishers. Therefore, it is up to the information consumer to do the work of evaluating their sources. As the University of Florida College of Nursing explains, there are specific criteria to use when looking at health information on the internet. This can be easily remembered using the acronym G.A.T.O.R.
G is for Genuine
How genuine and independent is the site? Some websites appear genuine but are there solely to promote the sale of products. Check whether the goals, purpose or mission of the site are clearly stated and beware of web addresses that automatically redirect readers to another address.
A is for Accurate
It is often hard to tell how accurate a website is, which is why it is vital that readers stick to reputable and trusted websites and check any information they have found with their healthcare provider. Government websites are generally accurate and trustworthy, and show dates that they have been updated.
T is for Trustworthy
Is the information true and is it reliable? Does the website say where the information they are publishing comes from? Do they quote references? Is the information on the site peer-reviewed by an expert in the field to make sure it is correct and up-to-date?
O is for Origin
Does the information originate from a reliable source? For example, most government, academic and healthcare organisations are managed by reliable sources providing up-to-date information. In contrast, a commercial company may present selected facts to sell their product. Can you contact the website for further information, clarification or verification?
R is for Readability
Is the information presented in a clear, concise way that most people can understand? If it is confusing, that may deliberate or a sign of the writer’s poor understanding of the issues.
Use this acronym to check if the information is trustworthy, and ask your pharmacist, nurse, physician, or other healthcare professional for assistance if you are still unsure or have further questions. A good source of health information can be found at your eldercare portal.
By Hailie Rondeau, RN
ARTACares is provided by HumanaCare, an Alberta-based health and wellness provider with more than thirty-five years of Canadian health care experience.