Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Q & A Video on Fact-Based vs. Opinion-Based Information!
In this video, you will learn:
- Signs that a website provides evidence-based information
- Signs that a website provides opinions and not facts
- How to talk with your care provider about what you read online
Links and resources:
- Health on the Net Foundation Principles.
- A few websites I recommend for consumers:
Enjoy the video, and I hope you find it helpful! Stay tuned for our next Q & A!
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Submit your question for the Q & A
Hi. My name’s Rebecca Dekker, and I’m a PhD Prepared Nurse and the Founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Today’s question is, “How can I tell the difference between evidence-based and opinion-based information? So, in today’s Q&A video, we’re going to talk about the difference between evidence-based and opinion-based information and how you can tell the difference when you’re looking at childbirth info online. Because the internet and places like Facebook are really highly unregulated places to get information, it’s really important to do your homework and find out whether the information you’re reading is accurate or not, and that’s because misinformation or bad information can spread at a really rapid pace, reaching a really wide audience.
So, how can you sort good from bad information? As a general rule of thumb, health and medical information websites sponsored by the government, not-for-profit organizations, or medical organizations, or universities are often the more reliable places on the internet to find good health information. To find out who’s sponsoring a website or where the information came from, click on that About Us tab on the website that you’re visiting. However, just because it’s a .com doesn’t make it a bad source of information, and just because it’s a .org, doesn’t make it a good source of information. There are plenty of good .com websites that provide reliable information, like evidencebasedbirth.com. There are plenty of .org websites with bad information.
Other things you should look for on the website are, “Is the material reviewed by experts before it’s posted? Is the information current? Do they list their references? Are the references good references? Are they current?” If you’re on YouTube watching this video, feel free to click through on the blog article link below. It’ll take you to a list of resources that I have found helpful and that I have found, for the most part, are evidence-based resources for childbirth info. Another place you can go to learn more about what makes a website trustworthy, is healthonnet.org. The Health On The Net Foundation created a list of principles that health-related websites should follow.
I recommend visiting their website and checking out their list of tips for what makes a website more trustworthy, when it’s giving healthcare information. So, when you’re reading something online as yourself, “Is this fact-based or opinion-based information? How can you tell the difference between fact-based and opinion-based information? Well, here are some tricks that I use. First, if the information sounds too good or too scary to be true, then it probably is. It’s kind of like someone calling you up on the phone telling you, “You’ve won a cruise for two to the Caribbean.” Probably too good to be true. Also, if the author makes claims without backing them up with any kind of reference, then that’s a clue that they might just be reporting rumors or hearsay.
If the author uses inflammatory language. Words like toxic, horrible, or dangerous, then that’s a sign that their reporting their opinion, not facts. If they state their person experience and say, “Well, this is what worked for me,” then that’s their opinion. It’s not evidence-based or research-based information. Finally, take a look at the references. Even if someone lists references, the references might be really bad references. For example, I’ve seen health articles that reference magazine articles or other blog articles as their primary sources. I thought about maybe showing you some blog articles together that we could look at and dissect, but then I realized, I didn’t really want to point anyone out, or make fun of anybody, or make it look like I’m really criticizing some of the bloggers out there. But, there is a lot of bad info out there.
For example, just Google the words Vitamin K Newborn Shot, and probably the majority of articles that pull up on the first page are full of opinion-based information, using inflammatory words and making statements backing them up without any references, or using really outdated references. So, do yourself a favor and protect yourself from bad information. Be critical consumers of the content you absorb online. The best way to protect yourself from bad information is to talk with your healthcare provider. I recently published a study in which I found that the majority of women who were reading information about childbirth online were not talking about what they were reading with their healthcare providers.
It’s really important to talk with your doctor or your midwife about what you’re reading. Especially if you’re planning on putting it into practice. It’s best if your healthcare provider has been trained in reading research evidence and stays up-to-date on the evidence, themself, and is open to reading new evidence as it’s published, even if it’s presented to them by a patient of theirs. It’s okay to bring what you read to an appointment, to print it off and say, “Hey, I was curious if you could look at this and give me your opinion. I really value your thoughts. What do you think about this evidence that I read about this topic?”
In summary, not everything online is trustworthy. Surprise. I think we all kind of knew that, but it’s always good to be reminded of that. Finally, just make sure you’re taking with your healthcare provider about what you’re reading online. Thanks for listening. Bye.