Health on the Net (HON) is a not-for-profit health information review organization based in Switzerland. Its web address is www.HON.ch. (The .ch is the extension used for websites based in Switzerland.)
The organization was formed in 1995 by a group of participants representing 60 countries. They were physicians, professors, researchers and representatives from the World Health Organization. They realized that the Internet was a growing resource for health information, and that standards would be necessary to help determine which sites offered truly credible and reliable information.
They established a set of criteria, called the HON Code of Conduct, by which a health website should be compared and reviewed. The criteria include such tenets as privacy, transparency, attribution and authority. When a website meets and exceeds those criteria, it is provided with a credential, a logo, and a way to prove that credential has been awarded and the criteria met.
Further, those websites would be included in its own search engine, called MedHunt. Only HON credentialed websites are included in its searches.
HON is a non-profit organization, and is supported by a number of other non-profit organizations ranging from the state of Geneva, Switzerland, to the Mayo Clinic, to Sun Microsystems. Its services are free for anyone who pursues the credential, or who wants to refer to those credentials to make sure a website provides credible information.
Here is how to use HON to find information that is credible and useful to you:
- You can search for information using keywords, like the name of your diagnosis, through HON's Medhunt search engine.
- You can look on the homepage of the website you are using for research to see if the HON logo is found there (see above). If the logo is there, then click on it. It should take you to a page on the HON website to confirm that the credential is real.
The logo will include a date that reflects the last time the site was certified. When you click on the logo, match the date with the date HON claims to have certified it, and be sure they match.
This confirmation step is important, because it's entirely possible someone has merely copied the logo from another website, and the credential has not truly been awarded. Take this extra step to be sure the credential, logo and date have been assigned to the website you are reviewing.
Return to the master list of types of health and medical information resources you can use in your research.
... and don't forget to make sure the information you use is credible and reliable.