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

  • The evidence on hands-free cell phone devices while driving

    Evidence-based Living
    Research shows that talking on hands free phone devices while driving is just as dangerous as talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel. The act of having a conversation distracts the driver and increase the chances of being involved in an accident that may result in serious injury or death.
  • How to prevent fractures if you have osteoporosis

    Prevent slips and falls to avoid broken bones, especially if you have osteoporosis. This resource includes a slide show of falls prevention tips, including: exercise, install good lighting, wear slip-resistant shoes, clear away clutter, use safety devices, limit your alcohol, and talk to your doctor about your medications.
  • What should I eat?: Protein

    Harvard School of Public Health
    Protein is an important part of a healthy diet, but certain high-protein foods (such as red meat) can increase your risk of heart problems and other diseases. Choose foods such as fish, chicken, beans and nuts as sources of protein.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

    Mayo Clinic
    Excessive, ongoing worry that interferes with daily activities may be a sign of anxiety disorder. Treatments include talk therapy and medications. This resource includes tips to prevent and ease anxiety.
  • Dry macular degeneration

    Mayo Clinic
    Your risk of getting dry macular degeneration increases with age, family history or heart disease. To help prevent it, maintain a healthy diet and body weight, avoid smoking and get regular eye exams. Other tips for prevention, management and coping in this resource.
  • Colon polyps

    Mayo Clinic
    Signs of colon polyps include abdominal pain, blood in stool or a change in bathroom habits. It is important to get screened if you are at risk since some polyps can develop into colon cancer. Many polyps can be removed during screening.

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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