I was thrilled when my other website, Heart Sisters, was recently awarded Health On The Net Code certification. The HONcode certifies trustworthy health information, and requires that health website publishers disclose all potential conflicts of interest, provide credentials for authors relaying medical information, and reference the source of the information presented.
This international certification program is funded by the Geneva Ministry of Health and the European Union. Celia Boyer, executive director of HON, explains:
“The HONcode is a way to improve the quality of information on the internet. Given the critical nature of health information and the unregulated environment of the internet, web surfers need all the help they can get.”
It’s a good system, but occasionally some groups either sugarcoat information or straight-out cheat. For example, some websites display the HONcode seal but have either never been accredited or have been long-since discredited. And that’s where Dr. Stephen Barrett comes in. According to Time magazine, the retired psychiatrist and editor of Quackwatch has organized a campaign to improve compliance with this code, particularly for questionable complementary and alternative medicine websites. Continue reading