Sunday, August 13, 2017

Grief Healing Notified of HONcode Certification!

I am pleased to report that both the Grief Healing Blog and the Grief Healing Discussion Groups Web sites continue to be fully compliant with Health on the Net Foundation’s HONcode. We've recently been notified that both sites are HONcode-certified, which entitles us to display the HONcode seal on the sites’ home pages for the following year.

Health On the Net (HON) was founded to encourage the dissemination of quality health information for patients and professionals, and to facilitate access to the latest and most relevant medical data through the use of the Internet. The Health On the Net (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—the oldest and most trusted code for medical and health-related information available on the Internet.

The HONcode certification is an ethical standard aimed at offering quality health information. It demonstrates the intent of a website to publish data that are objective and transparent. The HONcode seal certifies that a website provides transparency regarding authority, authorship, confidentiality, and funding, is up-to date, honest about advertising, and provides clear distinction between advertisement and editorial content.

When certification is requested, a site is examined by a HONcode review committee (which includes medical professionals) who make a thorough visit to the site to verify if all eight of the HONcode ethical principles are respected. A site which is found to respect the eight HONcode principles is given a unique dynamic seal to place on its pages. The seal is directly linked to a HONcode certificate located on the HON website, so that future visitors need only to click on the seal to make certain that certification is still valid. Certification is valid for one year, and sites must be re-assessed annually for re-certification by the HONcode expert team.

If you are among the thousands of individuals looking for information, comfort or support with caregiving and grief, or to participate in an online grief forum or message board, it’s important to recognize that not all Web sites are of equal quality.

How can you be reasonably certain that the site you find is safe and reliable, and that the information it offers is accurate? As mentioned in an earlier post, before you decide to join any online grief forum or message board, you are wise to consider these precautions:
  • Investigate before you participate. Notice whether the service is sponsored by a reputable organization, and learn whether the moderators are qualified to offer information and support. 
  • Read about the moderators to learn about their background, education, training, licensure and certification. Make sure they have experience in facilitating groups and knowledge about the normal grief process. Read some posts written by the moderators to get a sense of their approach to grieving people. 
  • When health information is offered, check to see that references are cited. 
  • Make certain that the group or forum you select is made up of mourners with whom you can identify. Read some of the posts in a given forum to decide if you can relate to the people gathered there. 
  • Look for a statement of the group’s purpose and its “ground rules.” These should appear on the site’s main (or “home”) page. See, for example, Grief Healing Discussion Group Guidelines
  • Look for an option that enables you to report to the moderator(s) any post that you find objectionable. 
  • Use your own good judgment and common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, if you don’t feel safe, accepted or understood, trust your instincts, leave immediately and find another group. 
Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
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© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC

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