The Medical Library Association provides a list of reputable health websites online at MLANet.org. These sites provide information on symptoms for general health issues, common cancers, heart and stroke problems, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. The organization evaluates sites on factors ranging from corporate involvement and credibility to content recency and user-friendly design. Specific sites include the National Cancer Institute, Mayo Clinic, MedlinePlus, Kidshealth and HIV InSite.
Some of the recommended tools, including MedlinePlus and Healthfinder, refer users to other high-quality sites, explains the Medical Library Association. When accessing sites through a search engine, individuals should note that government agencies usually use ".gov" addresses, educational institutions use ".edu" addresses, and professional scientific and research groups use ".org" addresses. As sites that end with ".com" are usually affiliated with a corporation, which may influence their impartiality, users should consider whether the site fully discloses its affiliations as a sign of its credibility. Many reliable hospital organizations still use ".com" addresses.
When using a search engine, individuals should also provide detailed search terms, including specific examples of their symptoms, to find more relevant results, notes the Los Angeles Times. Patients should also keep track of which websites they use so that they can discuss their findings with their doctors. Doctors also encourage Internet users to avoid relying solely on a single site and to be cautious with sites containing a lot of advertising.