Majority of young people from the East Midlands ‘play Russian roulette with their health’

Almost eight out of 10 young people (78%) from the East Midlands go online for health information if they become ill but, alarmingly, 81% of say they find it difficult to tell if information on a website is reliable or not. The survey of 18-24 year olds, carried out by The Information Standard, also reveals that less than a third (30%) would visit their GP first if they are concerned and want health information or advice.

Ann Robinson, director of public awareness for The Information Standard scheme, commented on the findings: “It’s worrying that so many young people are turning to the internet for health information - especially when they have no idea how to tell the difference between which sites are and aren’t trustworthy. You just need one piece of advice that isn’t verified by a health professional to mislead a young person and put them at risk.

“That’s why The Information Standard scheme is so important, with its easy to spot quality mark on health and social care websites and other literature. People need only look for the mark to know they can trust the information they’re reading, rather than gamble with their health.”

Dr Louise Newson, GP in Solihull, commented: “Many young people today are so used to gathering any information from the internet, that it feels natural for them to use it to source health advice as well. The problem is that it’s so difficult to tell a trustworthy site from one that’s not. I have seen patients who have delayed coming to me because they had read something online that had misinformed them. This is why I urge all my patients to look for The Information Standard quality mark if in doubt.”

The Information Standard is a certification scheme that allows health and social care organisations, accredited by the scheme, to place a quality mark on their published information, demonstrating to the public that their information can be trusted.

For more information and to see a full list of certified members, visit www.theinformationstandard.org