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BMJ 1999; 319 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7212.790 (Published 18 September 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:790
  1. Harry Brown, general practitioner and trainer (DrHarry@dial.pipex.com),
  2. David Dickinson, consumer information designer (david.dickinson@consumation.com)
  1. Leeds UK
  2. UK
    • A quarter of all the material on the internet is health related (www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/journals/archive/jama/vol_281/no_4/cv80008x.htm). About a third of web surfers are searching for health information (www.rcsed.ac.uk/journal/vol44_4/4440040.htm) Much of this material is not technical but of interest to consumers

    • A comprehensive starting point is the Hardin Meta directory at www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/md/index.html, which is effectively a gateway to other directories. This site is catalogued by specialty, but it is more than just a simple (and extensive) collection. The webmaster has gone to the trouble of checking that the links within the target directories are functioning, and Hardin is quite choosy about whom it includes (see www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/md/submit.html). If you cannot find what you are looking for in Hardin, there is a list of other similar collections. This site allows the user to locate specific good quality information quickly

    • Another guide to appraising health information is an instrument called DISCERN (www.discern.org.uk). A questionnaire prompts assessment of the quality of health information …

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