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Health on the Net Foundation: Problems?

Health on the Net Foundation has been evaluating and rating medical websites for years and it’s sad when we find out there might be some problems and concerns around this highly-respected system.The Bradfield Resident blog published an interesting entry:

…from a review the HONcode guidelines on the Health On the Net Foundation website, it appears that the Australian Dental Association’s site, which currently displays a HONcode seal, does not respect the HONcode principles.

Details of the water fluoridation argument (and safety of mercury in fillings, etc) aside, it is apparent that the current ADA website does not respect a number of the HONcode principles – to an obvious and significant extent – and I imagine this to have been the case for a number of years, if not from the original review in January 2004. This example does not instill confidence in the credibility of the Health On the Net Foundation seal used for medical and health websites. I seek your explanation as to how a site reviewed numerous times with such glaring inconsistencies could be certified. I have not particularly listed examples of the inconsistencies since they appear on almost every page of the ADA website – if you cannot see them, I hold little hope for the HONcode’s reputation at all.

doctor question honcode

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I really wanted to get HONCode for our magazine. HONCode is important as an organization but i think should be more strict in many occasions. I have seen other examples too.

    Besides the decleration of ownership, authorization, etc i am really dissapointed when i see HONCode sites publish stories from the newspapers. I mean stories where a journalist took one reasearch paper, made a reference himself but never stated the authentic reference. Exact and serious reference is very important for me whether someone should have or not a “scientific” kind of accreditation.

    October 25, 2009
  2. Evidence Matters #

    There are several well-established problems with HONCode accreditation to the point where it really does not seem to mean that much. One example of the HONCode being challenged, removed, reinstated, re-challenged etc.: there are more.

    October 29, 2009
  3. bradfieldresident #

    Hi Bertalan,

    I was not satisfied with HON’s 9 September response ( to my complaint, and replied at length to that email on 11 September ( There was no response from HON by the time I read your article here, so on 25 October I forwarded my unanswered message ( to the address given on the HONcode site under “Policing & Supervision” (

    Some five or so days have passed since the resending of that message, and still there is no response.

    I am not familiar with the general state of actual HONcode compliance nor other criticisms of HONcode policing/policy for other sites, so find the information from other commentators here to be somewhat enlightening.

    Does the HONcode system (or Health On the Net Foundation generally) have some vested or self interest in allowing questionable and/or apparently substandard sites to remain certified?

    To me, some of HON’s response to my complaint seemed completely outrageous. That isn’t to say that I am necessarily correct or justified, however, and I would like to hear the opinions of other people with regards to the apparent shortcomings I have identified.

    Bradfield Resident
    Sydney, Australia

    October 31, 2009
    • Hello,

      You raised some very important points. Though I believe HONcode is way too overwhelmed with new accreditation. But this is not the right direction for them.

      I hope I can do something different on

      Best regards,

      Berci Mesko

      October 31, 2009
  4. Well then, it seems like dire circumstances for the HONcode. If a business is attempting to service more customers than it has the capacity to handle, the service level must necessarily fall. In this case, if the organisation is unable to properly monitor existing certifications, their value is diminished, and in some examples may be entirely meaningless.

    If whole countries such as France are using the HONcode as part of their guidelines, it probably needs government-level funding. Even the most noble cause in the world can be overwhelmed by excess demand.

    Bradfield Resident
    Sydney, Australia

    October 31, 2009

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Health on the Net Foundation: Problems? « ScienceRoll | Linaqi-Healtn|Fitness|Weight loss|Lifestyle|Beauty
  2. 2009 in Numbers and Entries « ScienceRoll

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