Would you know how to prevent a baby from choking?

A Survey carried out by The Information Standard reveals that the public can’t easily spot unreliable health information

Are parents getting the right facts from their internet research? Half of parents struggled with what to do if their child was choking or whether they should give cough medicine to a child under 6?

There are currently thousands of health advice websites and more people than ever going online for their health information.  According to a recent survey though, many struggle to tell health fact from health fiction. The Information Standard, a quality mark scheme to help consumers identify trustworthy sources of health and social care information, highlighted the problem by challenging the public to answer true or false on some commonly believed health myths. The results were startling:

•         Almost half (48%) do not know how to prevent a baby from choking

•         40 per cent of those most likely to have young children thought they could give cough medicine to children under six

•         The majority (64%) think that vitamin C can help prevent a cold

•         Almost half (45%) think post natal depression was due solely to hormonal changes as a result of childbirth

•         Despite diabetes being on the rise amongst the young, 1 in 4 young people aren’t aware diabetes can lead to sight loss

Ann Robinson, director of public awareness for The Information Standard scheme, commented: “There are a lot of conflicting health messages out there, and as the survey shows, often the public isn’t 100 per cent sure on how to treat or manage their own and their family’s health. According to recent statistics 85 per cent now go online for their health information as opposed to visiting their doctor as a first port of call. So without some kind of guidance, the public would not be able to spot a piece of information that isn’t reliable.

“ The Information Standard has set out to give this much needed guidance to the public in a quick and easy way. Any producer of health information can apply to be Information Standard certified. When the public sees the quality mark on the information that they’re reading, they can feel confident in the knowledge that the information is evidence-based and comes from a trustworthy and reliable source.”

Natalie Payne, a mother of two from London , commented: "My children are generally healthy but when they do fall ill it’s naturally worrying.  When my son got impetigo I immediately turned to the internet to try to determine what the rash was and what I should do before I could get to the doctor. But I found it difficult to filter the information online and determine what was and wasn’t true, so deciding what advice to follow was very challenging. Now though, with The Information Standard, being able to quickly and easily look for the quality mark does put me at ease, as I know if the mark is there then I can trust what I’m reading."

 Dr. Louise Newson GP based in Solihull, West Midlands commented: “Many of my patients go online to get health information. However, as the survey suggests, they are often not able to tell the difference between what is and isn’t reliable. This has meant that I’ve had patients who have come to me confused, unduly panicked or completely misguided. The Information Standard quality mark is an easy way for people to identify trustworthy information and ensure that when patients are reading about a health condition they are getting their facts from a reliable source.” 


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