Scholarly Kitchen: What do you mean by the term ‘reliable healthcare information’?

30 August, 2023

Here is another extract from my interview with Scholarly Kitchen. I look forward to your comments.

Read in full:

What do you mean by the term ‘reliable healthcare information’?

"We use this term to have a wider meaning than it suggests, namely that it is the information people need to protect their own health and the health of others. By definition, such information should not only be accurate and up to date, it should also be unbiased and reflect, as far as possible, the cumulative evidence based on robust research; it should clearly be in the right language, technical level, and format; it should be relevant and applicable to the person’s immediate situation (which is always changing); and the person should be empowered to differentiate it from the barrage of misinformation that does not fulfil these criteria. A few of my colleagues have proposed the term ‘essential healthcare information’, analogous to essential medicines, but I prefer the term ‘reliable’, as defined above, as I don’t believe we can categorize information in the same way as essential medicines. Rather, I see the issue in terms of meeting people’s information needs (both perceived and actual [1]), which will vary from person to person and from one situation to another."

[1] Neil Pakenham-Walsh. Towards a collective understanding of the information needs of health care providers in low-income countries, and how to meet them

J Health Commun 2012;17 Suppl 2:9-17. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2012.666627.

With thanks,


HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: