I am back from a little writing break and thought this was an apt way to get back into it. As a health writer, whether it be for my blog or clients’ blogs, I believe it’s important to provide reliable information, especially because our health has such a big impact on our lives.
I want to believe that this is true of others too.
The truth is that not everyone sees it this way, or perhaps they do, but don’t know where to find credible sources for research. Looking back at some of my past posts, I used a few sources here and there that probably weren’t up to par.
I do have a diploma in nutrition and have a certificate in exercise science and group fitness training which is very helpful, but finding good credible sources is a must.
I am happy to say that since I started writing professionally, I now know where to find these sources and use them even when just researching for myself.
The Right Information is Out There, You Just Need to Use The Right Health Sites
If you are a writer or a health professional, finding trustworthy sources quickly is such an advantage.
It’s amazing how much information is freely available on a range of health topics. Nutrition, diseases, fitness, mental health, you name it. Websites like Healthline and Medical News Today write in a way that is easy for those of us who aren’t doctors and scientists to understand.
Nutrition Facts is also one of my favourites. It has easy to understand reviews of medical literature and information on a variety of health topics in the form of videos, blog posts, and podcasts.
Open access journals and indexes such as PubMed Central, Cochrane Library and The British Medical Journal release some of the studies so that the public can read part or entire studies for free. These can be a little harder to understand though if you aren’t a medical professional, scientist, or researcher.
OpenMD is another good resource. Here you can find links to all the websites and medical journals that are trusted and respected in the medical and health industry in one place. The directory is especially helpful for finding information by category. I’ve used OpenMD a few times now and been really pleased.
If you prefer to use websites, the good ones will have the sources listed either at the bottom, placed in the links throughout the text, or both.
Even if the writer is an expert in the field, they will back the information up with sources. You can then go to the sources and read the information for yourself.
This is especially important in the case where the writer doesn’t have a degree or isn’t a medical professional.
Can we Trust all Medical Studies and Clinical Trials?
If all the trustworthy websites in the medical, health and wellness space are using medical trials and research as sources, can’t we take everything at face value?
Articles written by industry experts can usually be trusted. But there are times when people misinterpret information, or trust a small or poorly designed clinical trial, then the information you’re going to get isn’t going to be right.
One of the biggest examples of this was a few years ago when after some new research had been done, many healthcare professionals, dieticians, nutritionists, and subsequently the media, proclaimed that we are all now free to eat as much saturated fat as we’d like.
The basis for this was that according to the new studies, saturated fat didn’t actually raise cholesterol levels as was previously shown by numerous older studies.
The problem with this is that the newer studies were poorly designed. Not just that, they were purposely designed that way to cast doubt so as to decrease the negative impact of the prior studies on the dairy and meat industries which are the top sources of saturated fat.
Dr Michael Greger from nutritionfacts.org released this video, titled “The Saturated Fat Studies: Set Up to Fail” explaining it so much better than I could.
I don’t mean to sound paranoid or accuse every company that funds a study of purposely having the researchers skew the results or interpret poor results in a favourable light.
But it’s something that happens. If you can, read through the whole study or find someone who stands nothing to gain and is knowledgeable to do it.
This is why I like Nutrition Facts so much. Dr Greger is knowledgeable, passionate about giving people true information to improve their health, and I love his sense of humour.
Not Researching for Work? See a Medical Professional
If you are sick or injured, the best place to go is the doctor, clinic, or hospital depending on how serious your condition is.
I can’t tell you how many times I was “dying of cancer”, experiencing “a heart attack”, or simply dealt with my ailment for longer than necessary just because I went to Dr. Google instead of an actual healthcare professional.
Not only does looking at the myriad of possible diseases that your ailment may be a symptom of cause a lot of unnecessary stress, but it can also prevent you from getting the actual treatment that you need.
So while there are very useful resources on every disease and ailment to help you or a loved one, in most cases it’s best to get a diagnosis first.
Taking an interest in your health is awesome! That’s why I write the type of posts that I do, and why I believe that other health writer do too. We are passionate about health and we want our readers to have the tools to live their best lives.
But make sure that when you follow any advice when it comes to your health, or in fact any advise, that it will work for you and that it comes from a credible source.
We can be very biased when we write. There are certainly diets and other types of medical treatments that I don’t think will work for me based on research. One size doesn’t fit all. This is why speaking to a health care professional is such a good idea.
As we near the end of this first quarter of this year (it feels crazy to me!! Time is flying!), I hope that the rest of this year will be a healthy, happy, and successful one for each of you 🙂
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- Image by Natalia Ovcharenko on Pixabay
- Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke