We are all aware of the famous quote by Francis Bacon - "Knowledge is power".The quote aptly signifies that having good knowledge of any subject gives us the power to shape our lives the way we want. Knowledge shapes our attitude, which influences behaviour, and behavioural practices developed over time may become ingrained in an individual. .In the context of people living with chronic conditions like Diabetes, having good knowledge about various aspects of the disease can directly affect important factors like management, self-monitoring, prevention of complications and improving the quality of life.For example, knowledge of the symptoms of hypoglycaemia will help a person in recognising such symptoms at an early stage in future, and in case they develop, take appropriate action, which may simply be consuming glucose tablets, glucagon or candy. Ignorance, in this case, far from being bliss, may be life-threatening.Getting the right information at the right time is essential for acquiring proper knowledge to handle a situation.There are many different sources of information for people to acquire knowledge about various health conditions and health parameters:Personal communicationIn the health context, examples include counselling from the doctor, nurse, or any other healthcare professional, patient support groups, lectures, demonstrations, etc. In Diabetes, the importance of having a meaningful conversation with the doctor and Diabetes educator cannot be overstated.Print mediaMany people refer to periodicals like health magazines and various books on health for information. Disease-specific brochures and pamphlets are also commonly read. Journals are mainly meant for professionals, although some people oriented journals do exist.Broadcast mediaThis includes mainly radio and television, where some programs involving specialist doctors addressing patient queries are quite popular.Digital mediaDigital media has practically taken over all forms of media. The main types that are extensively being used include websites, social media and networking sites or apps and biogs.Today, there is an explosion of information that is available at the click or push of a button. For instance, several medical information websites are providing information about various health problems, self-care and prevention.The litmus testHowever, there are several concerns as well, like the quality of medical information available, difficulties in understanding and using the information, and most seriously, the potential for harm.The tendency for internet diagnosis and self-treatment is recognised for its possible harmful consequences. In the case of Diabetes, this can play havoc with a person's blood sugar levels.Thus, the most important issue with information is its credibility. How does one trust the information that is available so freely now?Here are a few tips to navigate through the vast ocean of information, particularly the internet. Also, the National Institute of Aging (https://www.nia.nih.gov/) is a good source to refer to.Who hosts the website or app, or publishes the printed matter?It is important to know the organization or agency hosting the website or app, or publishing the book, periodical or information brochure.As a rule, government publications and websites are dependable. For instance, the National Health Portal of the Government of India (https://www.nhp.gov.in/) provides information on various health conditions.Some other such international sources for obtaining credible health information include:• World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/)• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/)• NHS, UK (https://www.nhs.uk/)• Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/)• My Healthfinder (https://health.gov/myhealthfinder)• Australian Government Department of Health (https://www.health.gov.au/)Publications and websites of professional bodies and reputed organizations can also be generally trusted upon. On the other hand, it is important to keep an eye out for websites and publications that aim to sell some product(s) or are supporting some personal cause or specific group. Examples include sites promising miraculous cures through their products, and those of the latter include the groups and sites campaigning against vaccination and statin therapy.In the case of apps, apart from the quality of information, it is also important to be vigilant about issues related to one's privacy and confidentiality. These issues are also important while accessing the various social media platforms. Who wrote the information? Who reviewed it?Authors and contributors are generally, though not always, cited on the top or at the bottom of an article. If the authors have been mentioned, one should assess their standing in the field. Any financial stake they may have in the information should be stated to allay any fears of conflict of interest. For instance, if any of the authors have received any grant or other benefit from any pharmaceutical company it should be declared upfront.Trustworthy sources will have the contact information of the authors, which can be used to reach them for any clarifications. On the other hand, if the author's name is not apparent, or if the author's background or experience is unclear, then it may not be prudent to trust the information.It is also worthwhile to see if the health information has been reviewed by a competent person. Dependable websiteswill mention where their health information came from, and how and when it was reviewed.When was the information written?Look for websites and publications that stay up-to-date with their health information.Information that seems out of date or the date for the information is not given or cannot be determined, may not be reliable. Older information may not necessarily be useless, but using the most current, evidence-based information is best.What is the basis of the information?Health information based on research conducted via scientific trials involving a sizeable number of participants would be more trustworthy as opposed to information based only on someone's opinion (e.g. testimonials) or individual experience. Additionally, if the information is in agreement with what is found in multiple other sources, it would be more credible.Cures that seem too good to be true are often that.In this regard, it is worth noting that the Access to Credible Genetics Resource Network (ATCG) has developed a very handy tool to critically assess the quality of the health information that is found on various websites, hand-outs, booklets, etc. titled the 'Trust It or Trash It? Tool' (http://www.trustortrash.org!) . It implores the readers to ask three pertinent questions: Who said it?', When did they say it?' and 'How did they know?'Finally, it is important to use common sense and good judgment when looking at health information. The above-mentioned points can serve to determine whether the available information is reliable. One should refer to more than one source to check not just the veracity, but also its suitability to one's condition. In case of any doubt, it is best to consult with one's doctor or other appropriate healthcare professional before taking any decision on one's healthDr Shailesh R. Deshpande is the Head of Education at Chellaram Diabetes Institute.