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Staying safe online

How to find reliable and accurate health information online

Using the internet to research health issues can save time and possibly a trip to the GP.  But beware, as some websites may contain unreliable information. A search for a condition such as cancer can bring up thousands of results, so how can you determine which websites are the most trustworthy?

Using this website

This site is funded by the Department of Health. It is committed to providing objective and trustworthy information and guidance on all aspects of health and healthcare. NHS Choices strives to ensure content is evidence-based, founded on the best scientific knowledge available.

The kind of standards we work to are what every internet user should seek from a health information service. The information should be:

  • approved by a clinical expert
  • reviewed and updated regularly
  • unbiased
  • non-commercial (not trying to sell you anything)
  • not claiming to replace the advice given by a doctor
  • not asking you to pay for a full emailed diagnosis

Learn more about the NHS Choices editorial policy.

NHS Choices has been certified as a producer of reliable health and social care information by The Information Standard, a certification scheme to help people decide which information is trustworthy. 

Further recommendations

If you’re feeling unwell and need medical attention, see your GP or call NHS 111 service. 

When looking for advice on specific conditions, look for well-known organisations, such as the British Heart Foundation or Cancer Research UK. Look for sites which end in .org (not-for-profit organisations) or .gov (government run).

Cross-check the information. If the same details are repeated across many different websites there's a greater likelihood of the information being accurate. 

Online support groups are great sources of information. Talking to other people living with a certain condition can be helpful and comforting.

Be wary of websites offering miracle cures. If something appears too good to be true, then it probably is.



The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Hephaestus said on 06 December 2011

Exploring further the comment above it is my understanding there are least three categories of drugs (for medical use):

1. Those that may be bought without prescription in small quantities from an ordinary retailer.
2. Those that may be bought without prescription only under the supervision of a pharmacist.
3. Those that need a prescription.

When travelling abroad it worth noting that other countries do not necessarily place drugs in the same category as the UK so something you could buy at a 24 hour supermarket or filling station in the UK may need a pharmacist in another country or even a prescription.

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ScrapeNR9 said on 29 March 2011

I travel across Europe and can buy some medicines without prescription when overseas at the counter of a pharmacy. Am I able to import these by buying online from their European websites as they are cheaper than UK pharmacies?

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Page last reviewed: 08/08/2014

Next review due: 08/08/2016

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