Much information concerning alternative medicine is readily available on the internet for anyone who may be interested, however, the question remains whether or not this abundance of information is reliable and accurate or pure quackery. The websites being evaluated in this article are http://altmed. od. nig. gov and www. alternativemedicine. com. The differences between these two websites are a perfect illustration that one must be cautious and critical of all information obtained via the internet. The National Institute of Health’s website, http://altmed. od. nig.
gov, is a good example of a reliable and well-informed source of knowledge. The website clearly denotes contact and sponsorship information on their homepage. It is extremely clear where one would call, email or write if there were questions, problems or concerns. Moreover, it clearly states that one should not use the information obtained by this website to seek therapy or treatment without talking to a doctor or health care provider. It also defines what NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine) is, what they do and who with whom they are affiliated.
Additionally, by clicking on a topic one can easily obtain very specific and well-credentialed background of the director of the program. The entire website is detail oriented, factual and well documented. It is up-to-date as the website says that it was “last modified 8/24/01. ” The NCCAM website was also extremely user friendly (good graphics, well divided subject headings) and easy to maneuver. Overall, this website was an excellent source of information for students, researchers or anyone interested in information on alternative medicine.
In contrast to the NCCAM website was www. alternativemedicine. com, “The Voice of Health. ” I found this website rather amusing as it was very obvious that information was not at all based on reliable, research-based material. This is definitely the perfect example of information sources that one should be very cautious. As far as I could ascertain, there was no real authorship of the articles or the information blurbs. Once in awhile Dr. So-and-so would be quoted but the reader had no idea who Dr. So-and-so was (and whether or not he is a real doctor.
) The only biographical information (and picture) was of the president of the company, but there were no specific credentials, professional affiliations, or qualifications that would make him someone that you would want to take medical advice from. Not only was the CEO’s information vague, but so was the contact information for the company itself. No phone number or email address was listed, just an address. The best part of the website, in my opinion, was after you had chosen a specific health condition or problem, a box popped up for you to enter your zip code in so you could find a practitioner in your local area to help you.
What a convenience This is a stark contrast to the NCCAM website, which advises the consumer to consult a health care provider before subscribing to any of the therapies. The graphics and maneuverability of the website, however, were good and easy to use. Overall, this website was not a reliable source of information and I would definitely be very hesitant to believe the information it provided. Both of these websites are useful in understanding and realizing the fact that just because information is on the internet does not make it true.
The NCCAM is a proven example of a resource that one could use to augment their knowledge on a variety of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It contains research data, facts and reliable information. In contrast, www. alternativemedicine. com is a prime example of what internet users should be wary of, a site that contains little or no factual information and was definitely NOT “The Voice of Health. ” The internet is definitely a great source of information and learning but, as evidenced, one should always evaluate and be critical of what one reads and sees.