These Web sites were selected based on their authority, their wealth of content, their reliability, their recognition as quality sites as demonstrated by awards received, and from the author’s and reviewers’ personal experiences. It is a select list, not comprehensive. The descriptions of these sites are drawn primarily from the sites themselves. Their order here follows that of the presentation.
This is one of the National Library of Medicine’s premier sites to help find health information of interest for the general public. A health educator, working on various community health issues, will find authoritative and current information on over 650 diseases and conditions. MedlinePlus also includes extensive information on prescription and nonprescription drugs, health information from the media, and information on thousands of National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored clinical trials accessible to the public. There are also lists of hospitals, clinics, and physicians, a medical encyclopedia and a medical dictionary – all information that can assist community members become more informed about their health. A Spanish language version of MedlinePlus can be found by following the “español” link at the top of the page.
healthfinder® is an award-winning federal Web site, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services together with other federal agencies. Since 1997, healthfinder® has been recognized as a key resource for finding the best government and nonprofit health and human services information on the Internet. healthfinder® links to carefully selected information and Web sites from over 1,700 health-related organizations. Many of the materials are written in Spanish.
This site provides a wealth of information for public health workers, including health educators. It is a collaboration of U.S. government agencies, public health organizations, and health sciences libraries devoted to providing quality information to improve the practice of those in public health. Contributions to this site have come from several key players in the field of public health. A health educator can find information for the public on health issues such as diabetes and hepatitis, information on toxic substances, information on hoaxes and rumors, as well as images and illustrations depicting illnesses among the populace.
Nutrition.gov is a federal Web site that provides easy access to all online federal government information on nutrition. This national resource makes obtaining government information on nutrition, healthy eating, physical activity, and food safety, easily accessible in one place. Community members can find information on healthy eating, the food guide pyramid, dietary guidelines, dietary supplements, fitness and how to keep food safe. Since nutrition is very important in preventing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, a health educator can use many of the reliable resources from this site to promote healthy behaviors in the community.
This nutrition Web site is produced by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington, D.C. Since 1971, this consumer/nutrition advocacy organization has conducted research on food, alcohol, health, the environment and other issues related to science and technology; has represented the citizen’s interests before regulatory, judicial and legislative bodies on food, alcohol, health and the environment; and has educated the public through its newsletter, NutritionAction Healthletter. CSPI encourages Congress to pass new nutrition and food-safety laws, encourages government agencies to sponsor nutrition campaigns, and urges food companies to change the way they make, sell, and advertise food to make food safer and make it easier for people to eat well and be more physically active.
NOAH: New York Online Access to Health™
NOAH provides access to high quality full-text consumer health information in English and Spanish that is accurate, timely, relevant, and unbiased. In 1994 four New York City library organizations joined together to establish this single Web site for reliable consumer health information. These organizations are The City University of New York Office of Library Services (CUNY); the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO); The New York Academy of Medicine Library (NYAM); and The New York Public Library (NYPL) - later joined by the Queens Borough Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. Health educators can find a wealth of bilingual consumer health information at this site.
The Utah Department of Health’s Bureau of Primary Care, Rural and Ethnic Health and the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, University of Utah Health Sciences Center, Salt Lake City, have collaborated to provide over 200 public health brochures written in multiple languages available over the Internet. The 24 Languages Project Web site provides online access to these brochures, plus access to several audio files. A generous Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Utah State Library Division has made this resource possible.
Multilingual Health Information, National Training Center and Clearinghouse
This page is a useful compilation of Web sites offering non-English language health information. This information is organized on the National Training Center and Clearinghouse Web site, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, National Library of Medicine.
Combined Health Information Database (CHID Online)
CHID is a bibliographic database produced by health-related agencies of the federal Government. This database provides titles, abstracts, and availability information for health information and health education resources. CHID lists a wealth of health promotion and education materials and program descriptions that are not indexed elsewhere. The database covers 12 topics and has been available to the public since 1985. New records are added quarterly and current listings are checked regularly to help ensure that entries are up to date and still available from their original sources. CHID is updated four times a year.
Community Tool Box (CTB)
The Community Tool Box provides over 6,000 pages of practical information to support public health workers’ efforts to promote community health and development. This Web site is created and maintained by the Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. Developed in collaboration with the AHEC/Community Partners in Amherst, MA, the site has been online since 1995, and continues to grow on a weekly basis. There are “topic sections” or the “big ideas” that have been found to be important in doing community work. Topics such as community assessment, developing a strategic plan, agenda setting, group facilitation, cultural competence, and social marketing provide practical guidance for community development. There are 16 “core competencies” for actually planning the work. These include analyzing problems and goals, increasing participation, advocating for change, sustaining the initiative, and writing a grant application for funding, to mention a few. A Trouble Shooting Guide provides information and possible solutions for those times when obstacles impede community program development. Any public health worker can use this tool to develop a strong community-based health program.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recognized as the lead federal agency for protecting the health and safety of the public, providing credible information to enhance health decisions, and promoting health through strong partnerships. CDC serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States. Its mission is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. There is a wealth of information provided here to help a health educator answer health-related questions from a community.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Begun as a one-room Laboratory of Hygiene in 1887, the National Institutes of Health today is one of the world’s foremost medical research centers. An agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH is the federal focal point for health research. There are fact sheets and information available on public health issues that will be of use to health educators.
Tox Town provides an introduction to toxic chemicals and environmental health risks that may be encountered in everyday life, in everyday places. It was created by the National Library of Medicine’s Specialized Information Services Division in October, 2002. It is a companion to the extensive information in the TOXNET collection of databases that are typically used by toxicologists and health professionals. Tox Town is highly interactive, with graphics, animation, and sound. There are currently two scenes for exploration, the Town and the City. Click on scenes from the City or Town to learn more about urban and suburban health risks. Click on a particular location within the Town or City to find out what chemicals may be in that location. Roll the mouse over one of the eight chemical names listed at the bottom of the screen to find out more about that specific chemical. This is an excellent resource for health educators who are asked to find easy-to-understand information about environmental toxins in their community.
Scorecard is a Web site produced by Environmental Defense, a national, nonprofit organization with more than 300,000 members. Since 1967, when a small group of scientists joined together and successfully went to court to obtain a nationwide ban on DDT, this organization has linked science, economics, and law to create innovative, equitable and cost-effective solutions to society’s most urgent environmental problems. Today Environmental Defense employs more than 250 scientists, economists, and attorneys in the pursuit of environmental national reform. Scorecard is used as a strong source for free and easily accessible local environmental information. By typing in a particular zip code or by using one of the available maps, public health workers can learn more about environmental pollutants in their communities. Pollution situations are ranked and compared across the US. Detailed information is provided for more than 11,000 different chemicals. Many of these chemicals have detailed chemical profiles that indicate their health hazards such as they cause cancer, birth defects, or contribute to the deterioration of the immune system. Additional information includes air pollutants, emissions of toxic chemicals, Superfund sites, lead hazards in housing, and animal waste sites in a community. Health educators can use this community information to answer questions of concern regarding the community’s environment.
National Center for Cultural Competence
The National Center for Cultural Competence is a component of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development and is housed within the Department of Pediatrics of the Georgetown University Medical Center. Its mission is to increase the capacity of health and mental health programs to design, implement, and evaluate culturally and linguistically competent service and delivery systems. This Web site has access to a guide for choosing and adapting culturally and linguistically competent health promotion materials and a checklist to assist organizations and systems of care when developing policies and practices that support cultural and linguistic competence. A database is also available with a wide range of resources on cultural/linguistic competence such as demographic information, policies, practices, articles, books, research initiatives and findings, curricula, multimedia materials, and Web sites. The NCCC also provides a pool of consultants skilled in training issues related to cultural/linguistic competency. This Web site is very useful for health educators concerned about providing their communities with materials or training that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.
The Web site Contentbank is a project of The Children’s Partnership, a national child advocacy organization working to expand digital opportunities for all of America’s children and families. The hallmark of the Children’s Partnership is to forge agendas for youth in areas where none exist, to help assure that disadvantaged children have the resources they need to succeed. Contentbank connects the staff of community-based organizations, that work directly with underserved residents, with the tools and information they need to find high-quality, relevant online content as well as help them to create their own local content. There are guidelines and tools that assist with content creation and evaluation, and assist with disability, English as an alternative language, and limited-literacy issues. Health educators can use guidelines established here to create low-barrier content for their programs.
Evaluating Web Resources
These are a few tools to help with the process of evaluating resources on the Internet. It is not a comprehensive list but provides guidance.
The Internet Navigator is a Web-delivered course on information management. It provides information on using the Internet as a resource tool and includes a section on evaluating Web resources. (See “Critically Evaluating Information”). This course is a collaborative effort between the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center and the Utah Academic Library Consortium (UALC).
Look for the health topic “Evaluating Health Information” or use the search box. There are many links here to help find quality Web information.
MLANET: A User’s Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web
Content evaluation guidelines.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS): How to Find Medical Information