How to Find Accurate Information About Lupus

In order to be well-informed about lupus, the information you rely on must be accurate. There's a lot of information out there about topics like lupus and health, especially on the Internet. It's important to know when that information is reliable, and when it's misleading and inaccurate.

1
Is it a Reliable Website?

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Since anyone can attach the words lupus, health, medicine, or science to their website, not every website that makes claims about health or science is trustworthy.

When reading an article, ask yourself about the source. Is it from a well-known and highly trusted place? Government (.gov) websites like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Women's Health, as well as non-profit organizations (.org) and colleges and universities (.edu) that are well-established and reputable are other possible sources of accurate information. For example, organizations like the Alliance for Lupus Research, the Lupus Research Institute, and the Lupus Foundation of America are good places to start.

2
Does the Information Sound Extreme?

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Does the information sound too good to be true? Or even too bad to be true? If big claims are being made, question them. For example, if someone says they have the cure for lupus, approach with caution. There is no cure for lupus. No one with real medical expertise in lupus would ever make such a claim.

3
Are They Trying to Sell You Something?

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When someone does make extreme claims, stop and check to see what they are selling or what agenda they are pushing. Often, when extreme claims are made, there is a product someone is trying to sell. If there's no product being sold, then it might be a point of view they are trying to sell. People trying to convince you of their point of view are usually "selling" their opinion. Reliable sources do not try to sell you anything and, instead, provide you with facts, not opinion.

4
How Do They Back Up Their Claims?

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If a website is making medical or other scientific claims, how do they back up these claims? They should provide links to reputable sources.

In addition to investigating the resources they provide, do an Internet search of the topic and see what else comes up. If you cannot find one or two reliable websites that make the same claims, then your original source is probably spreading false information.

If they are a for-profit company pointing you to their own research to back up their own claims, question this. Ideally, research should be conducted by organizations that are not affiliated with a for-profit company or political party. They should be objective, without an agenda. Objective research often comes out of the government, universities, or is funded by reputable and non-biased organizations like the lupus research organizations mentioned above.

5
Who Is Making the Claim?

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Who wrote the article you are reading? Who is making the claim? Does the person have the education, experience, and expertise to make such a claim?

Just because someone has an advanced degree like an MD or Ph.D., doesn't mean that you should automatically trust their claims. Ask the same questions -- Are they trying to sell you something? Are they backing up their claims with reliable sources?

Also find out if they are affiliated with reputable universities, non-profit organizations, or the government. If they are, they are more likely to be trustworthy.

This type of investigation also applies to websites where medical doctors (MDs) and other health professionals give medical advice.

6
How Old Is the Information?

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Is the information recent? What year was the article written? Is the information outdated? For example, articles listing lupus treatments that were written before 2011 would likely not include information about the drug Benlysta (belimumab).

7
Is the Story a Joke?

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You might be familiar with the popular and funny website, The Onion, which purposely and openly writes fake articles. There are other joke websites -- like dailycurrant.com and worldnewsdailyreport.com --
equally as open that the information on their websites are not factual. However, sometimes people share their articles without realizing that they are jokes and untrue. Again, know your source.

8
Is the Website a Hoax?

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Sometimes people write articles using false information but they try to pass them off as true -- hoax articles. Sometimes those are the articles you find making extreme or shocking claims. Do an Internet search about the article topic and include the word hoax in your search, and see what comes up.

9
Can You Go to the Source Yourself?

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If you are feeling adventurous, and the research is publicly available, try going to the source yourself. Read the original article. Learn more about the publication it's from and find out if it's a reliable publication. Understanding how to read research articles is a great skill to build.

Practice Your Way to Better Health Information

Once you start using these tips to screen the information you come across, it will start to become second nature. It might take a little practice up front, but it's worth it. Being misled by information on the Internet can lead to misinformation at the very least, and dangerous health decisions at the very worst. Finding accurate information on the Internet is important for managing lupus.

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