Why Risk Googling? Go for Health Information with a Reputation!

February 17, 2014

Many people, perhaps most, have questions about health matters. Libraries—hospital, public and otherwise—often get calls asking for health information, and where to find it. To help with questions like these, the Medical Library Association (MLA) asked the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section (CAPHIS) to come up with some good sources that people could rely on.

CAPHIS looked at many Web sites, and checked several aspects, such as accuracy, content, reading level, purpose, design, ease of use and how up to date they were. They put together a list of Top100 List of Health Web Sites You Can Trust http://caphis.mlanet.org/consumer/index.html). Here are some examples of sites from sections of the list:

General Health
MedlinePlus (http://www.medlineplus.gov)
The National Library of Medicine (NLM) built MedlinePlus to help people find current, accurate health information. NLM chose Web resources on more than 900 health topics, and added a medical encyclopedia with pictures, videos, and more than 4,000 short articles. MedlinePlus also has information on drugs, a medical dictionary, interactive tutorials that show and explain medical procedures, and links to health information in several languages.

Women’s Health
Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS) (www.ourbodiesourselves.org)
Also known as the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, OBOS has been providing information on women’s health, pregnancy, and sexual issues since they first published their book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, in 1971. The Web site has information about women’s topics, OBOS programs, publications, and news. You can also keep up with OBOS through a free newsletter, their blog, RSS feed, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Men’s Health
MayoClinic.com-Men’s Health Center (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mens-health/MC99999)
The Mayo Clinic offers general health information for men, including preventive care. It also has interactive tools and answers to FAQs from Mayo Clinic specialists.

Parenting & Kids
KidsHealth.org (http://www.kidshealth.org)
The Nemours Foundation’s Center for Children’s Health provides current information about diseases, health problems, nutrition, fitness, developmental issues, and preventive health care. The Foundation writes the material on the site specifically for parents, children, and teens. It is available in English, Spanish, and an audio version.

Senior Health
Geriatric Mental Health Foundation (http://www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf)
The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation’s purpose is to raise awareness of mental health problems of the elderly, promote healthy aging, and increase access to better mental health care for older adults. The Web site has information for the elderly and their families, explains how to find a psychiatrist who specializes in caring for older adults, and provides fact sheets in Spanish.

Drug Information Resources
Needy Meds (http://www.needymeds.org)
This is a source of information about assistance programs from pharmaceutical companies for people who cannot afford medications. It also has material on government assistance programs and coupons.

Complementary & Alternative
Longwood Herbal Task Force (http://www.longwoodherbal.org)
Faculty, staff, and students from Children’s Hospital, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute started this site to learn and teach other health care professionals about herbs, vitamins, dietary supplements, and how these substances interact with each other.

Other Useful Health Sites: The names of these sites show what they focus on:
• AMA Doctor Finder (https://extapps.ama-assn.org/doctorfinder/recaptcha.jsp)
• ClinicalTrials.gov (http://clinicaltrials.gov)
• Household Products Database (http://hpd.nlm.nih.gov)

Kathleen Fiola, MLS, AHIP
Library Director

Helen Hayes Hospital, MLA, and CAPHIS do not sponsor or make any direct recommendations about these resources. These sites provide general information, and some that is the opinion of the Web site authors. Please talk to your healthcare provider for individual information on your specific condition. (Updated September 2013)