About Web Resource Ratings

There is a lot of health information or "Web Resources" freely available on the internet. A Web Resource is any item you find online that you can watch, read, listen to, or interact with, such as videos, fact sheets and online quizzes. Many resources are consumer-friendly, but it's often difficult to know which ones have credible information, based on scientific research. Web Resource Ratings do the homework for you, assessing the quality of health information available online and presenting our assessment using a 5-star rating scale.

There are three stages of Web Resource Rating:

  1. Assessing inclusion of websites
    Websites we include must be:
    • Not directly funded by a company trying to sell you a product or service
    • Relevant to optimal aging
    • Intended for citizens, or include content intended for citizens
    • Free access
  2. Assessing inclusion of Web Resources from included websites
    Web Resources we review must be:
    • Not directly funded by a company trying to sell you a product or service
    • Relevant to optimal aging
    • Intended for citizens
    • Less than 5 years of age

  3. Assessing quality of included Web Resources
    Web Resources are rated for quality with three criteria:
    • Evidence-based: Is this information reliable, based on scientific research?
    • Transparency: Is it clear who developed the resource and how?
    • Usability: Is the information easy to understand and easy to use?

Each Web Resource Rating also provides a summary of the content, including any information that you can act on related to optimal aging.

If you cannot find a website or Web Resource Rating that you are looking for, check out our list of excluded websites. If you still can’t find it, let us know; we may be rating it now!

Recent Web Resource Ratings

  • "What matters most to you?" How decision aids help patients make better choices

    Evidently Cochrane
    Decision aids can help patients choose between different healthcare options. Decision aids can improve people's knowledge about treatment options and help them feel clearer about their health priorities.
  • Wet macular degeneration

    Mayo Clinic
    Wet macular degeneration causes blurry vision or blind spots. Medications are usually the first step in treatment. Avoid and manage degeneration through routine eye exams, not smoking, and managing your diet. Other tips are available in this resource.
  • Can oseltamivir (Tamiflu) prevent complications?

    Informed Health Online
    Oseltamivir (known as Tamiflu) is a drug that is meant to prevent complications like pneumonia when you have the flu. Research shows that Tamiflu makes flu symptoms go away sooner, but has side effects like headaches and nausea. Help protect yourself from the flu by washing your hands regularly.
  • Screening for colorectal cancer

    Canadian Cancer Society
    The Canadian Cancer Society recommends men and women over age 50 have a stool test at least every 2 years to test for colorectal cancer. You are at a higher risk if you have had this cancer before, have inflammatory bowel disease or if you have a family history.
  • Obesity: Television watching and "sit time"

    Harvard School of Public Health
    More time spent watching television and sitting can increase your risk of obesity and related chronic diseases. Stay active and limit your sit time to help control your weight.
  • Obesity in adults

    Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care
    The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommends behaviour change programs to help adults who are overweight or obese lose weight, since there is evidence that these programs work. Behavioural change programs include education and support to help patients improve their diet and physical activity.

Understanding our star rating system

Each Web Resource is rated using a star system on a scale from 0-5. The more stars, the higher the quality with 5 being the maximum. When you search for Web Resource Ratings on a particular topic, the ones with the highest ratings are presented first.

1 star: Not recommended

  • This information is not based on evidence. We do not recommend following this advice.

3 stars: Do more research

  • This information is based on scientific research, but possibly only from one or two studies. We recommend reading more about this topic. Use the ‘Related Topics’ links at the bottom of each resource to find higher quality information.

5 stars: Discuss with your health care professional

  • This information is reliable, based on a summary of many research studies. We recommend discussing these ideas with your health care professionals.

Our raters

Staff working on the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal conduct the assessments of the resources. Two staff members independently rate each resource and come to an agreement on its rating. Any disagreements in ratings are discussed until consensus is reached.

More questions about Web Resource Ratings?

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DISCLAIMER: Web Resource Ratings are provided for informational purposes only and to facilitate discussions with your healthcare providers, family members, or informal care givers. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professionals. The Portal is not responsible for the content of external websites, nor is it an endorsement of that website or the site’s owners (or their products/services). The Web Resource Ratings may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (Send email to Portal).

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