Finding good quality information

Making informed decisions about a communication difficulty depends on finding good quality information.

It’s common to want to find out more about a health condition or a disability, particularly when it is new. You may be waiting for an appointment with a professional but want to learn more right away.

There is so much information available from different points of view. Unfortunately, not all the information on the internet and elsewhere is supported by good research and evidence. It can be hard to know which information you can trust. It can be overwhelming!

Basing your decisions on good quality information can help you:

  • find treatments that we know will work because they are supported by evidence and research
  • spend your time and money well
  • avoid potentially harmful practices that could make things worse.

This page explains how to find good quality information and what you to expect from professionals. It also provides some questions you can ask a professional to find out if they are the right person to support you.

     Finding accurate information

To make sure you are finding accurate information, you can can ask a qualified health practitioner, look for websites for professional organisations, ask at your local library and use reputable online data bases.

Ask a qualified health practitioner

Your local doctor/general practitioner is a great place to start. They should be able to refer you to other services or supports.

You can also talk to other qualified professionals such as speech pathologists, maternal and child health nurses, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers.

These professionals will be able to tell you about the key words you can use to search for information.

They can also tell you about useful websites and resources.

Websites and social media sites for professional organisations

These include:

  • hospitals and healthcare networks
  • not-for-profit organisations, charities and foundations
  • professional associations
  • universities and research institutions
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations
  • groups that advocate for people with a disability and/or a particular condition.

Look for Australian sites first, as they may be more relevant than international sources.

Some useful sites include:

Local libraries

You local library staff may be able to direct you to organisations, professionals, groups or helpful resources in your area.

Online databases

There’s more to the internet than the information you find on websites.

Online databases contain journals and research about different conditions. The information from these sources has usually been checked and reviewed by experts. You can have greater confidence it’s trustworthy and based on objective evidence.

You can access summaries (abstracts) for free, but you may have to pay to download full articles. It’s worth asking your local librarian if there’s a way you can access the database for free.

Journal articles and research reviews often use technical terms and jargon that can be hard to understand. They may also use some common words and terms in different ways to what you might be used to. Talk to a professional about what information in a relevant article might mean for you.

Some examples of online databases are:

  • Cochrane Review: UK based site containing reviews of research studies and plain language summaries of each review
  • Google Scholar: specialised form of Google for expert publications 
  • Pub Med: US site with millions of article and links to other relevant sites

Finding high-quality and trustworthy information

Supports to make sure you're finding high-quality and trustworthy information are available. The first step is asking yourself some key questions.

Trust it or Trash it

The Trust it or Trash it tool prompts you to consider three key things about any information:

  • Who said it?
  • When did they say it?
  • How did they know?

Look for up-to-date information from experts in the field, supported by research evidence.

Research evidence might appear as references or a bibliography at the bottom/end of a page or resource, cited within documents, or cited beside sentences or statements.

Too good to be true?

Very occasionally, conditions can be ‘cured’ or resolved with a quick fix.

However, in most cases, this takes considerable time and effort.

Be cautious of claims about one-size-fits-all solutions that can help many different conditions and diagnoses.

High-quality and effective treatments are usually tailored to individuals. They address the person’s specific conditions, needs, goals, preferences, and circumstances.

Miracle cures are probably too good to be true!

You should also be careful of free or heavily discounted treatments or programs that require you to sign up for a long period of time (.e.g. programs with a subscription).

When looking at information in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context, check if:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities have led the research 
  • the research benefits communities
  • it has been undertaken by qualified professionals.

Check the qualifications of the professionals providing the services.


Finding too many stories and testimonials about how good a treatment or approach is can often be a warning sign.

It may mean there is a lack of scientific research evidence to back up the claims.

Stories and testimonials are not considered balanced or good evidence as they might not tell the whole story.

They might not mention the stories of people who did not benefit or improve.

Advertising rules prevent some professional services from using testimonials. For example, in Australia Speech pathologists are not allowed to advertise or promote their services using testimonials and stories.

Online and other groups

Many people join online and other groups to hear opinions or find like-minded people.

These groups can be a great source of information and connection.

However, remember that other people’s experiences and views might not tell the whole story or be relevant for you.

Talk to a professional

Discuss any information you find with a health professional, educator, health worker or support worker.

They may be able to help you interpret the information and can discuss if it applies to your personal situation.

     What to expect from professionals

Professionals should read and know about research studies to ensure they provide effective and up-to-date treatments.

They should explain your options to you in a way you can understand. They might write down or draw main points.

They should tell you about benefits, risks, costs, outcomes, alternative approaches, how long things will take, and what you will need to do.

This will help you make an informed decision about what’s right for you.

You can ask professionals questions too. For example, you could ask:

  • what training they have in a particular area
  • how much experience they have working with people with similar needs
  • how much research has been done in this area
  • what information or evidence they are basing their recommendations on.

You can also get a second opinion about your care.

Talk with and develop trust with the qualified professionals supporting you. Together, you can consider information and make decisions about your care.

Learn More

Bowen, C., & Snow, P. (2017). Making sense of interventions for children with developmental disorders: A guide for parents and professionals. J&R Press Ltd.

Advertising in the healthcare sector by The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra)