Fact Sheet No 1 - 2003
shows that patients and consumers who take a more active role in their
health decisions will live healthier lives and be more satisfied with
their health care and treatment results.
If you, as a consumer and patient, want to take a more active role
in your own care, you will need to seek information from a wide variety
of places. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, patient support groups, television,
medication leaflets, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, libraries, the
Internet and help lines are all important sources of health information.
High-quality health information will help you to make informed decisions
about taking care of your health, preventing disease, getting correct
diagnoses, making good treatment choices and getting the best clinical
Nurses, doctors and pharmacists routinely assess the information
needs of their patients and provide them with health information. This
works best when your relationship with your health care professional
is a partnership. When the responsibility for health care decisions
is shared, you and your health care professionals are more likely to
choose the health options that will meet your needs. So talk to your
doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Ask questions and express your wish for
Sure You Get
Good Health Information
Not all health information is equally accurate or right for you.
When you get health information from any source, ask yourself the following
questions. The more times that the answer to these questions is ‘YES’,
the more likely the health information is good information.
- Does the information give the names and educational credentials
of all authors, and the health care institutions responsible for
- Is the information really independent, or is it only trying to
sell you a particular product?
- Are the messages in the information material consistent with each
other? If you find the messages unclear or contradictory, you should
be concerned about their accuracy.
- Does the information give the date when it was written, reviewed
or scheduled to expire? Research in health and medicine can progress
rapidly, and old information may no longer be the best information.
- Are scientific references and other sources of this health information
- Is the information easy to read and/or search?
- Is the corporate or organizational identification of the information
source clearly visible?
- Are abbreviations and special terms explained?
- Is information about treatment risks and side effects provided?
- Are illustrations clear, and do they properly relate to the subject
- Does the information meet your needs?
- Does the information respect your religious and ethical beliefs?
- Is it clear for whom the information is intended?
- Have consumers and patients been involved in developing the material?