HONcode for Online Health Information

Health On the Net Foundation – an organization that certifies health and medical information websites to meet an ethical standard aimed at offering quality health information.

This is the logo of certification you can find on relevant web pages/sites:

Our commitment to reliable health and medical information 

HON was founded to encourage the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals and the general public, and to facilitate access to the latest and most relevant medical data through the use of the internet.

The HONcode certification is an ethical standard aimed at offering quality health information.  

It demonstrates the intent of a website to publish transparent information. The transparency of the website will improve the usefulness and objectivity of the information and the publishment of correct data.

HONcode is the oldest and the most used ethical and trustworthy code for medical and health related information available on Internet.

The HONcode is designed for three target audiences:

  1. the general public,
  2. the health professionals and
  3. the web publisher,

actively involving the site owner in the process of certification.

The HON Foundation is a Non-Governmental Organization, internationally known for its pioneering work in the field of health information ethics, notably for the establishment of its code of ethical conduct, the HONcode.

Regular monitoring:

When a website is first certified by the HONcode, it is considered as a new HONcode certification and it is valid for a period of 1 year.

Following this, the website must be re-assessed and recertified for continued HONcode certification.

This is part of the agreement when the site is first submitted for certification, which is communicated to the webmaster and consent is expressly obtained before requesting the HONcode certification.

The HONcode annual re-assessment is carried out by the HONcode expert team which is composed of expert professionals.

The HONcode annual re-assessment now has a membership fee which contributes to the cost of the re-assessment process.

In addition to the annual review we rely heavily on user vigilance to report alleged non-compliance with the HONcode, as we cannot cover the entire Web.

Many alerts come to us from sharp-eyed surfers motivated by civic responsibility. We applaud and encourage these alerts as a vital component of self-regulation and as a contribution to our work.

Civic sense of responsibility: online complaint reporting

The HONcode:
8 Principles

  1. Authority – Give qualifications of authors
  2. Complementarity – Information to support, not replace
  3. Confidentiality – Respect the privacy of site users
  4. Attribution – Cite the sources and dates of medical information
  5. Justifiability – Justification of claims / balanced and objective claims
  6. Transparency – Accessibility, provide valid contact details
  7. Financial disclosure – Provide details of funding
  8. Advertising – Clearly distinguish advertising from editorial content

Example from http://www.emedexpert.com/compare/nsaids.shtml:

 

Clicking the “verify here” link takes you to the Certification site: https://www.healthonnet.org

The Health On the Net (HON) certificate guarantees that this website complies with the eight principles of the HON Foundation’s Code of Conduct at the date indicated above.

The persons responsible for the site commit to maintaining its compliance with the HONcode principles for the duration of the site’s certification.

 

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