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

  • Kidney infection

    Mayo Clinic
    Kidney infections require prompt medical attention. Talk to your doctor if you experience fever, back/side/groin/abdominal pain, frequent urination, strong urge to urinate, burning sensation when urinating, or pus or blood in your urine.
  • Chronic kidney disease

    Health Link B.C.
    Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two main causes of chronic kidney disease. Changes in how much you urinate, fatigue, sleep problems and nausea are all signs of loss of kidney function. Avoid long term use of medications that may damage your kidneys, exercise regularly and eat a diet low in protein, sodium and fat to reduce your risk of kidney disease.
  • Do I need to include probiotics and prebiotics in my diet?

    Mayo Clinic
    Probiotics may help to keep your digestive system healthy. Prebiotics act as food for probiotics. There is some evidence that probiotics may help treat diarrhea, yeast infections and irritable bowel syndrome. More research is needed on the role that probiotics and prebiotics play in digestive health.
  • What are probiotics?

    Mayo Clinic
    Probiotics are good bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy. They are available supplements and certain foods. Details in this resource about when to avoid taking probiotics, and considerations to ask your doctor.
  • High cholesterol: topic overview

    Health Link B.C.
    Some types of cholesterol (LDL) can clog your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease. Being overweight, inactive and eating saturated or trans fats can cause cholesterol to build up in your vessels. To treat or prevent high cholesterol, eat a heart-healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise and avoid smoking.
  • The evidence on salt? The jury is still out

    Evidence-based Living
    Eating too much salt can make existing high blood pressure and heart disease worse. More unbiased and high quality research is needed to know whether salt intake is really a risk for healthy adults.

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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