FCA logo

Trust it or trash it? Techniques for evaluating health news stories

Too often health and medical news reporting is unreliable, at best – ten years ago one study found nearly 90% of all health news stories contained inaccurate information, and it’s only gotten more difficult since then to sort out the useful information from hype, advertisements, or genuinely fake news. In the effort to make their stories catch readers’ eyes, journalists frequently mistake, exaggerate, or spin reports. Often reporters also miss details that make all the difference when it comes to transforming research findings into useful medical treatment.

However, there’s good news too. With critical thinking skills, tools, and techniques, careful readers (even without a science background) can spot inaccurate or unreliable health reporting. This program describes DIY techniques that anyone can use to detect bias, spin, and scam warning signs; identify trustworthy go-to sources for quick and efficient searching. This presentation also explains how to read and evaluate medical research reports. Being able to identify what is valid and relevant information amidst all the noise of our news media can be essential for people with serious or chronic illness, and for those who help care for them.

Hand-out: “Evaluating Health Information/ Trust it? or Trash it?”


Lise M. Dyckman, MLIS, Consumer Health Information Specialist
Executive Director, PlaneTree Health Library.

Teaching information search skills has been a focus of Lise’s career as a librarian over several decades. That fits perfectly with the PlaneTree Health Library’s mission to guide people to trustworthy health information so they can advocate for better health care for themselves, their families, and their communities. Lise is certified as a Consumer Health Information Specialist with the Medical Library Association, and has recently completed the World Health Organization’s Infodemic Management training.

This webinar is funded by Alameda County Department of Adult and Aging Services, Contra Costa County Area Agency on Aging, the City of San Francisco’s Department of Disability and Aging Services, San Mateo County Aging and Adult Services, Sourcewise, and the California Department of Aging.