Indrani Sivagnaniar

MPHP 439

Public Health Management and Policy   

 

    Millions of Americans search for health information on the Web every year. Whether the health information is needed for personal reasons or for a loved one, millions of health-related Web pages are viewed by millions of consumers. Sometimes the information found is just what was needed. Other searches end in frustration or retrieval of inaccurate, even dangerous, information.

    The Internet presents a powerful mechanism for helping users improve their health-care decision-making by providing easy and rapid access, exchange, and dissemination for enormous amounts of health information. Yet users must be aware of the potential for misinformation and recognize the critical need to assess the quality of the information provided. Content providers must be encouraged to develop and post high-quality information, and policymakers and health-care professionals must be educated on this important health issue. These criteria are intended as a resource for users seeking health-related information on the Internet, and should aid in evaluating information to determine whether it is usable and credible.  The un-filtered, free form nature of the Web provides unique challenges in determining a website’s appropriateness as an information source. 

Criteria for Evaluating Internet Health Information:

Credibility: this includes the source, currency, relevance/utility, and editorial review process for the information.

 

Content: this must be accurate and complete, and appropriate disclaimer should be provided.

 

Disclosure: this includes informing the user of the purpose of the site, as well as any profiling or collection of information associated with using the site.

 

Links: evaluated according to selection, architecture, content, and back linkages.

 

Design: encompasses accessibility, logical organization, and internal search capability

 

Interactivity: includes feedback mechanisms and means of exchange of information among users.

 

Caveats: clarification of whether site function is to market products and services or is primary information content provider.

These following criteria are also important in evaluating a health website:

Appeal of site: the appearance of the Web site should be interesting and informative to a user.

Ease of Navigation: Websites should be easy to access.

Links, evaluated links: links to Websites would help a user to get to the right web page and information.

Question and answer section: this would help consumers/users to have their questions and doubts answered.

Dictionaries: this would be helpful if the user needs to look up a word (medical) on the website.

Pictures, quality of pictures: the web site should have quality of pictures to make things more interesting, clarifying and appealing.

Personal stories about people with disease: this would help a patient or health care professional to get more understanding of the disease. Also, many people would be more comfortable about reading and believing real stories.

Access to publications, lending libraries, and resource books: these would be helpful in finding or researching more information on a particular subject.

Names and addresses of local providers/experts: this is a good thing to look for because most users don’t know where to find local provider or expert.

What do we need to look for: Techniques for Investigating Who Owns a Domain Name:

  • Read the domain name for a clue to the type of page (be skeptical)
  • Look up the domain registry page at the appropriate registry agency:
    • For .com, .edu, .net, .org: http://www.networksolutions.com/cgi-bin/whois/whois
    • For .gov (U.S. government): http://www.nic.gov/cgi-bin/whois
    • For .mil (U.S. military): http://www.nic.mil/cgi-bin/whois
    • For Asian-Pacific: http://www.apnic.net/apnic-bin/whois.pl
    • For European: http://www.ripe.net/cgi-bin/whois
    • For the rest of the world: http://www.uninett.no/navn/domreg.html 

Most commonly used top level domains used in the U.S:

.edu= university, educational institution

.gov= governmental agency

.org= non-profit organization

.net= network

.com= commercial

.mil= military

 

Health Web Sites: Combined lists of all topics:

 

GENERAL HEALTH WEB SITES:

Name: MEDLINEplus from the National Library of Medicine
URL: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/
Description: The National Library of Medicine's MEDLINEplus information pages are designed to direct you to resources containing information that will help you research your health questions. MEDLINEplus is for anyone with a medical question. Both health professionals and consumers can depend on it for accurate, current, medical information.

Name: healthfinder
URL: http://www.healthfinder.gov/
Description: Developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, healthfinder directs you to selected online publications, clearinghouses, databases, web sites, and support and self-help groups, as well as the government agencies and not-for-profit organizations that produce reliable information for the public.

Name: NOAH: New York Online Access to Health
URL: http://www.noah-health.org/
Description: NOAH: New York Online Access to Health is a unique collection of state, local and federal resources selected by editors with consumers in mind. Searchers may select from a list of Health Topics which are then narrowed to include definitions, care and treatment, and lists of information resources

Name: familydoctor.org
URL: http://familydoctor.org
Description: From the American Academy of Family Physicians, this site offers patient education documents for common medical concerns and conditions. All of the information within familydoctor.org has been written and reviewed by physicians and patient education professionals at the American Academy of Family Physicians

Name: adam.com Medical Encyclopedia
URL: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/encyclopedia.html
Description: adam.com is a leading online provider of health, medical, and wellness information. At this site, after choosing a topic, you can link through to an overview, a list of symptoms, treatments, and prevention.

Name: Hardin Meta Directory of Internet Health Sources
URL: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/md/index.html
Description: Developed by the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, University of Iowa, Hardin MD points to the most complete and frequently cited lists for health subjects, a list of lists.

Name: MayoClinic.com
URL: http://www.mayoclinic.com/
Description: MayoClinic.com offers a wealth of easy-to-understand information on health and medical topics. New material is added every workday, all reviewed for accuracy by Mayo Clinic experts.

Name: The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, Seventeenth Edition, Centennial Edition
URL: http://www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/
Description: The Online edition to "The Merck Manual," a standard quick-reference text in medical libraries.

Name: Diseases, Disorders and Related Topics; "MeSH Classified" Resources on Internet for lay persons
URL: http://micf.mic.ki.se/Diseases/
Description: From the Karolinska Institutet, Library, Stockholm, Sweden, these pages contain links to external ('no-charge') resources on the Internet dealing, in particular, with diseases and disorders, but also with a few other health/medical related topics.

Name: HealthLinks: Diseases and Common Conditions
URL: http://healthlinks.washington.edu/
Description: From the University of Washington Health Sciences Libraries, HealthLinks provides a series of links to resources on the web and at U. Washington. It was one of the first such services developed in 1995.

Name: InteliHealth
URL: http://www.intelihealth.com/
Description: InteliHealth is a media company formed as a joint venture between Aetna U.S. HealthcareTM and the Johns Hopkins University Hospital and Harvard Medical School and University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. InteliHealth is a subsidiary of Aetna U.S.

Name: medem.com
URL: http://medem.com/MedLB/medlib_entry.cfm
Description: This set of resources are produced by some of the nation's leading medical societies, including the American Medical Association. Medem's Medical Library has a full range of patient education information.

Name: MedWeb
URL: http://www.MedWeb.Emory.Edu/MedWeb/default.htm
Description: MedWeb is a catalog of health related web sites maintained by the Emory University Health Sciences Center Library to provide access to biomedical information to improve education, research and patient care.

Name: National Health Information Center
URL: http://www.health.gov/nhic
Description: NHIC puts health professionals and consumers who have health questions in touch with those organizations that are best able to provide answers. The site includes the Health Information Resource Database which contains information on 1,500 organizations and government offices.

Name: The Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Complete Home Medical Guide
URL: http://cpmcnet.columbia.edu/texts/guide/
Description: This resource is the online version of the Third Revised Edition, 1995, of this standard consumer health text. There are 34 chapters.

Name: The Merck Manual of Medical Information - Home Edition - Interactive Edition on the Web
URL: http://www.merckhomeedition.com/home.html
Description: The Online interactive edition of "The Merck Manual of Medical Information - Home Edition," a comprehensive consumer text.

Name: Virtual Hospital - Common Problems in Adults
URL: http://www.vh.org/CommonProblems/CommonProblems.html
Description: from The Virtual Hospital at the University of Iowa. The Virtual Hospital is a digital health sciences library created in 1992 at the University of Iowa to help meet the information needs of health care providers and patients. The Virtual Hospital digital library contains hundreds of books and brochures for health care providers and patients and makes the Internet a useful tool for medical reference and health promotion.

Name: Allhealth.com
URL: http://www.allhealth.com/
Description: Allhealth.com is the health channel of ivillage.com, the Women's Network. It has comprehensive information.

Name: Health Care Information Resources
URL: http://www-hsl.mcmaster.ca/tomflem/top.html
Description: Health Care Information Resources makes information about health and disease accessible in the belief that the informed consumer is a more satisfied consumer of healthcare.

Name: HealthCentral.com
URL: http://HealthCentral.com/
Description: This site is a network of information services providing consumers with highly personalized interactive tools, including custom newsletters, personalized health information pages and personalized risk assessments. HealthCentral is one of the few sites to actually feature a medical librarian.

Name: U.S. Consumer Gateway: Health
URL: http://www.consumer.gov/health.htm

Description: This is a true megasite for consumer information from the federal government. This site’s purpose is to provide a one-stop link to a range of federal resources on the Web easily available to consumers. 

Name: HealthLink
URL: http://healthlink.mcw.edu/
Description: This site put up by the Medical College of Wisconsin Physicians & Clinics from the Medical College of Wisconsin has health information on many topic and includes news and features.

Name: HealthTouch Online for Better Health
URL: http://www.healthtouch.com/
Description: An extensive list of specialty and disease categorized single page patient education documents derived from professional and government organizations. In the Health Information

Section, find up-to-date information on health, wellness, diseases, and illnesses. Other sections include: Drug Information Pharmacy Search Health Resource Directory and Product Information.

Name: Med Help International
URL: http://www.medhelp.org/
Description: Use the Search engine to locate conditions. Patients can ask questions of doctors -- unlike some "ask the doctor" sites, this one meets high standards -- HON Code approved.

Name: Medical Matrix
URL: http://www.medmatrix.org/index.asp?
Description: Medical Matrix's target audience is primarily United States physicians and health care workers who are on the front line in prescribing treatment for disease conditions. Even though the site is oriented toward professionals, it is useful for motivated consumer who take the time to familiarize themselves with medical terminology. Disease categories are arranged in menus. It has several major strengths: it ranks sites, it is peer reviewed, and listed entries are annotated. (Registration required)

Name: MedicineNet.com
URL: http://www.medicinenet.com/
Description: MedicineNet.com seeks to provide relevant, easy-to-read, in-depth medical information for consumers. Their health and medical information is written, reviewed and /or edited by one or more board-certified physicians. Through their peer reviewed-based Task Management System, they ensure that qualified professionals provide accurate, comprehensive and easy-to-understand information. They claim their content is not influenced by any advertiser, sponsor, company, product offering, or third party.

Name: Medwebplus.com
URL: http://www.medwebplus.com/
Description: MedWebPlus is designed as a catalog of biomedical resources on the World Wide Web. Like the sources it describes, MedWebPlus is intended for audiences ranging from students to practitioners to patients to the healthy lay public. Erring on the side of inclusiveness, MedWebPlus excludes sites that are incomprehensible or that are blatant advertisements for services or publications.

Name: Mylifepath.com
URL: http://www.mylifepath.com/
Description: Mylifepath.com is a free online health and wellness service provided by Blue Shield of California. The site provides customized healthcare news and information, and a wide variety of alternative health and wellness services.

Name: NetWellness
URL: http://www.netwellness.org/
Description: NetWellness is a Web-based consumer health information service developed by the University of Cincinnati Medical Center with many partners. The medical centers at Case Western Reserve University and The Ohio State University collaborate with the University of Cincinnati to provide the most current and accurate health information. Anyone with a connection to the World Wide Web can access NetWellness. However, some resources are commercially licensed for specific locations and may be used only from those locations

Name: ThriveOnline.com
URL: http://thriveonline.oxygen.com/
Description: Users enter query terms and retrieve fact sheets and article summaries on disease conditions, drugs, and surgical procedures. Sources include MDX Health Digest, Harvard Heart Letter, and Consumer Reports. 

 WOMEN’S HEALTH WEB SITES:

Name: Ask NOAH About: Women's Health
URL: http://www.noah-health.org/english/wellness/healthyliving/womenshealth.html
Description: The New York Online Access to Health (NOAH) is a bilingual (English and Spanish) health information site. Sponsors include The City University of New York (CUNY), The New York Academy of Medicine, and The New York Public Library. Contains basic health information for women about normal conditions, such as puberty, sexuality, pregnancy, birth control/contraception, and menopause. Also contains information about abnormal conditions, such as eating disorders, endometriosis, menstruation problems and concerns, osteoporosis, sexually transmitted diseases, and urinary tract infections.

Name: Feminist.com Health and Sexuality Links
URL: http://www.feminist.com/resources/links/links_health.html
Description: A comprehensive list of links to pages concerning breast cancer/cancer, reproductive health, reproductive rights, sexuality, women & AIDS, and general women's health provided by feminist.com, a grassroots community. Benefactors include The Gloria Steinem Fund.

Name: HHS U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Women's Health (OWH)
URL: http://www.fda.gov/womens/
Description: The mission of the FDA's Office of Women's Health (OWH) is "to serve as a champion for women's health both within and outside the agency." It "funds research and education/outreach programs on pressing women's health issues," such as " breast and ovarian cancer, women and HIV, women and cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, breast implant safety, the effects of estrogen, and women and autoimmune disease ... [and] ... continues to focus its scientific intramural research on gender effects and regulatory science." Provides links to regulatory guidance, [OWH] scientific projects, publications, and health topics.

Name: HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): Women's Health
URL: http://www.hrsa.gov/womenshealth/default.htm
Details: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), provides links to women's health contacts; women's health resources; HRSA publications and communications, including fact sheets on women's health; and HHS women's health links. Information is provided about access to prenatal care, immunizations, physical exams, and other preventive health care; community-based health services for women and girls; HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services for women and children; cancer prevention services, nutrition and fitness, diabetes management, domestic violence screening and referral, mental health, and oral health programs; and health care and outreach services for women living in rural communities coordinated by HRSA Office of Women's Health (WHO) through HRSA programs.

Name: HHS Office on Women's Health
URL: http://4woman.gov/owh/index.htm
Description: "The Office on Women's Health (OWH) in the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is the government's champion and focal point for women's health issues, and works to redress inequities in research, health care services, and education that have historically placed the health of women at risk." Contains links to National Centers of Excellence in Women's Health, National Community Centers of Excellence in Women's Health, minority women's health, girl and adolescent health, older women's health, reproductive health, violence against women, HIV/AIDS in women, breast health, environmental health, international health, and much more.

Name: HHS Office of Women's Health (OWH): National Women's Health Information Center
URL: http://4woman.gov
Description: The National Women's Health Information Center, a service of the Office on Women's Health in the Department of Health & Human Services. The NWHIC provides a gateway to the vast array of Federal and other women's health information resources. Includes links to health news stories via Women's Health News Today, featured health articles, Healthy Women Today Newsletter, frequently asked questions, breastfeeding, screening and immunizations schedule, violence against women, calendar of women's health events, women with disabilities, body image, men's health, minority health information, and other topics.

Name: ihr.com Internet Health Resources: For Consumers
URL: http://www.ihr.com/
Description: IHR develops, hosts, and promotes infertility Web sites for infertility organizations and provides links that are useful to consumer and professionals. This site includes information about all aspects of infertility, including, In vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), tubal embryo transfer (TET), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), egg donation, financial issues, subject matter experts, and sperm banks. Information about Internet newsgroups and mailing lists, research, journals, medications, infertility medical supplies, and adoption is also provided.

Name: National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC)
URL: http://www.healthywomen.org/
Description: The National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) is a non-profit, national clearinghouse for women's health information. NWHRC develops original health materials and content specifically for women, and provides links to related news, public education campaigns, conferences/events, information about book titles, national organizations, and contact information for local health departments.

Name: NIH National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Women's Mental Health Consortium (WMHC)
URL: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/wmhc/index.cfm
Description: The WMHC at the National Institute of Mental Health provides information on mental health occurrence, treatment, outcomes, and research as it related to women. Links to research, publications and reports; news and events, including upcoming seminars and conferences; conference summaries; and related federal sites are given.

Name: NIH Office of Research on Women's Health
URL: http://www4.od.nih.gov/orwh/
Description: Links are given to reports (e.g.: Agenda for Research on Women's Health for the 21st Century: Executive Summary); funding support for ongoing research, conference and workshops, special projects, etc.; various publications, including fact sheets and research agendas; videocasts of upcoming and past workshops, conferences, and events can be viewed.

Name: Society for Women's Health Research
URL: http://www.womens-health.org/
Description: Nonprofit advocacy group "promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies and encourage the scientific examination of the basic biological and physiological differences between men and women, and how those differences affect both health and disease." Information about sex-based biology research, including links to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences report in April 2001, "Exploring the Biological Contributions to Human Health: Does Sex Matter?" as well as information about understanding research [and its implications for women's health] are provided. Information about sex differences in several health conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, heart health, internal medicine, mental health, is provided as well as links to specific data summaries for particular conditions. Society activities, advocacy policy, and press releases can be accessed.

Name: WebMD Healthy Women
URL: http://my.webmd.com/living_better/her
Description: WebMD is an online information, research, educational services and communities for consumers and physicians. Links are given to current news, health conditions (select women's conditions), message boards, and health newsletter.

Name: The North American Menopause Society
URL: http://www.menopause.org/
Description: A scientific nonprofit organization devoted to promoting women's health during midlife and beyond through an understanding of menopause. Information is provided for health care consumers and professionals alike, such as, literature about perimenopause/menopause, educational materials, referral lists, participation in research studies, scientific studies, competency exams, etc. This organization has a multidisciplinary membership of 2,000 leaders in the field including clinical and basic science experts from medicine, nursing, sociology, psychology, nutrition, anthropology, epidemiology, pharmacy, and education.

MEN’S HEALTH WEBSITES:

Name: Ask NOAH About: Men's Health
URL: http://www.noah-health.org/english/wellness/healthyliving/menshealth.html
Description: New York Online Access to Health (NOAH). Bilingual health information site. Sponsors include the New York Academy of Medicine and the New York Public Library. Includes basic health information, and information on fertility, impotence, surgery, prostate, safer sex, stress and testicles. Includes a Spanish list of resources.

Name: MEDLINE Plus - Men's Health Topics
URL: http://medlineplus.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/menshealth.html
Description: Includes info on Prostate Diseases, Impotence,Testicular Cancer as well as PubMed searches on Men's Health Topics.

Name: MayoClinic.com – Men’s Center
URL:http://www.mayoclinic.com/findinformation/healthylivingcenter/centers.cfm?objectid=0004FC18-621F-1B37-8D7E80C8D77A0000
Description: Information on specific conditions and care, Lifestyle, and a section on Being Male. This section features information and interactive tools on health issues unique to men. What's "normal" for the male body, what can go wrong and what can be done about it.

Name: Medem Medical Library: Men's Health
URL: http://www.medem.com/MedLB/sub_detaillb.cfm?parent_id=55&act=disp
Description: Healthcare information from the nation’s medical societies on Healthy Living, Reproductive and Sexual Function, Prostate Conditions and Other Men’s Health Issues.

Name: American Academy of Family Physicians - Men's Health
URL: http://www.aafp.org/patientinfo/health5.html
Description: Information pamphlets on a range of health topics including prostate cancer screening, hypertension, diet, lowering cholesterol and lifestyle.

SPECIFIC HEALTH PROBLES WEB SITES:

Name: Alzheimer's Association
URL: http://www.alz.org/
Description: The “I Have Alzheimer’s” page links to information on living and coping with Alzheimer’s disease. The site’s “Resource Center” provides fact sheets and additional information on diagnosis and management, planning ahead, statistics, a glossary, resources for caregivers.

Name: American Academy of Dermatology - Public Resources
URL: http://www.aad.org/patient_intro.html
Description: Includes a “Find a Dermatologist” directory, news, and sidebar links to special pages of extensive information on the most common skin conditions, such as acne (AcneNet), aging skin (AgingSkinNet). Download illustrated pamphlets on a variety of skin, hair, and nail diseases, conditions, and topics at: http://www.aad.org/pamphlets/index.html.

Name: American Dental Association - The Public
URL: http://www.ada.org/public/index.asp
Description: Includes “Oral Health Topics A-Z” with frequently asked questions, illustrations, overviews, and information on prevention, cosmetic dentistry, and restorative procedures. The site also provides information specifically for children, teens, and seniors and a “Find a Dentist” directory.

Name: American Heart Association
URL: http://www.americanheart.org
Description: The ‘Heart & Stroke Encyclopedia” in the sidebar links to an extensive alphabetical list of topics providing definitions, descriptions, treatment information, scientific statements, and very helpful links to related information on the site. The “Diseases and Conditions” and “Children: Heart Disease and Health” pages provide more in-depth information on selected topics. The site also includes a “Heart Profilers” decision tool, news, healthy lifestyle information, and charts of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest warning signs.

Name: American Lung Association
URL: http://www.lungusa.org
Description: This is the premier site for consumer information on lung disease. It is attractive, easy to navigate, and loaded with educational and useful information. Included are special pages of information on asthma, tobacco control, air quality, occupational health, school programs, living with lung disease, data and statistics, reports on research, and advocacy news. The “Diseases A to Z” pages contain information sheets on lung disorders. Each information sheet contains a description of the disease, causes, statistics, treatment, and suggestions for self-management. Additional information includes research and selected links to related authoritative Web sites. Pages include revision/review dates.

Name: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
URL: http://www.aafa.org/
Description: Access consumer information pages from the Asthma & Allergies link on the left sidebar. Includes a pollen count zip code search feature, explanations of asthma and allergies, an Ask the Allergist e-mail feature, a questions & answers/glossary page, a Teen page, and links to additional professional and government sites with asthma and allergy information. The site’s “Answers” fact sheets provide articles on 50 topics. Contact information is provided on each page.

Name: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
URL: http://www.cdc.gov
Description: The CDC is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, dedicated to promoting health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Of special interest to the consumer is Health Topics A to Z at: http://www.cdc.gov/health/default.htm.These pages provide information about diseases, conditions and other special topics arranged under “Health Information.” This extensive and growing list of topics includes Frequently Asked Questions, checklists, related links, pages for kids, travelers’ health, and lots of extras with attractive and useful illustrations. Navigation is easy and links back to the Health Topics page are available on each page. Consumer information is clearly identified, and pages include revision/review dates.

 Name: Centers for Disease Control, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention
URL: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/dhap.htm
Description: Well designed and easy to navigate, this site offers consumer information on the basic science of HIV/AIDS, prevention, counseling, testing, treatment, care-giving, and research. It provides brochures, fact sheets, and Frequently Asked Questions. It links to other resources, such as conferences, hotlines, and additional selected Web sites. Pages include revision/review dates.

Name: Healthfinder - Health Library (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
URL: http://www.healthfinder.gov/library/
Description: Provides links to online publications, clearinghouses, databases, other Web sites, support and self-help groups, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations that produce reliable consumer health information.

Name: Joslin Diabetes Center
URL: http://www.joslin.harvard.edu/
Description: The Joslin Diabetes Center is an internationally recognized diabetes treatment, research and education institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School. This site provides news, discussion boards, an extensive “Online Diabetes Library” of informational on all aspects of diabetes, free online classes, a “Beginner’s Guide,” a site for Asian-Americans, and information in Spanish.

Name: MayoClinic.com - Diseases and Conditions A-Z (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
URL: http://www.mayoclinic.com/findinformation/diseasesandconditions/index.cfm
Description: “All material on the site is developed and/or reviewed by Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers… All material is grounded in scientific research…[,] dated…[and] continuously reviewed.”

Name: MEDLINEplus, Health Topics (National Library of Medicine)
URL: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthtopics.html
Description: A directory of authoritative and reliable sources on 500+ diseases and conditions. Includes links to overviews, clinical trials, health organizations, statistics, and news. There are also links to information on diagnosis, treatment, management, and rehabilitation. The site is updated daily.

Name: Merck Manual - Home Edition
URL: http://www.merckhomeedition.com/
Description: Information for consumers written by nearly 200 leading medical experts. Searchable with illustrations, audio and video enhancements, and choice of a text or an interactive version. Continually updated with notices of updates on its “Changes and Corrections” page. See the table of contents (text version) at: http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual_home/contents.jsp

Name: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
URL:http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/index.htm
Description: NHLBI site provides extensive information on diseases of the heart, blood vessels, lung, blood, and on sleep disorders. Links on it’s “Health Information” page lead to a variety of resources on virtually all aspects of these conditions, some specifically for Latinos and women.

 Name: National Immunization Program (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
URL: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/
Description: This site provides guides and recommendations on immunization for children, adults, and travelers. It also includes information on disease prevention, fact sheets, a glossary, information on benefits and risks of immunization, news, and downloadable publications (PDF) and educational resources.

Name: National Institute of Mental Health - For the Public
URL: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/index.cfm
Description: This site provides information about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses, including clinical trials, reports from the Surgeon General, and news. Many educational and informative publications are available in full-text, including brochures, information sheets, and fact sheets. The “Science Education” page contains links to Quick Time videos and other visual resources.

Name: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) - Disorders
URL: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/health_and_medical/disorder_index.htm
Description: This site contains an extensive alphabetical list disorders that link to detailed information for consumers. These pages include a description of the disorder, information on treatment, prognosis, current research, health organizations supporting the disorder, and a list of related publications and information. Links in the sidebar take the consumer to studies with patients, research literature, and press releases. Pages include revision/review dates

Name: National Institutes of Health, Health Information (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
URL: http://www.nih.gov/health/
Description: Provides information on specific diseases and conditions from the institutes that research them. Full-text publications include brochures, fact sheets, and handbooks. The site also provides information on research studies, clinical trials and drugs; a database of toll-free information numbers; and links to other trusted resources

Name: National Stroke Association
URL: http://www.stroke.org/about.cfm
Description: This “All About Stroke” page provides excellent consumer/patient information and includes a “Top 8 Links” sidebar. There is information for survivors and caregivers; information on prevention, prevention, and clinical trials; a glossary; and links to other stroke-related resources.

Name: Your Orthopedic Connection (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons)
URL: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/
Description: Provides an extensive list of illustrated fact sheets and patient education booklets on various orthopedic conditions, diseases, and injuries. Includes information on prevention, safety, sports, and wellness; a “Find an Orthopedist” directory; and news. Pages provide review/revision dates.

General Drug Information Resources:

Name: Drug InfoNet
URL: http://www.druginfonet.com/

Description: This site provides not only prescription drug information and information from the drug manufacturers, but also provides information on diseases and links to various healthcare organizations and government sites.

 

Name: Needy Meds
URL: http://www.needymeds.com/
Description: NeedyMeds attempts to bring together programs from the various pharmaceutical manufacturers to assist people who can't afford to purchase their prescriptions. Each company has its own program, special requirements, forms and procedures. To date, no central clearinghouse exists for obtaining information about the information or the drugs themselves. This site is an information source only.


Name: RxList - The Internet Drug Index
URL: http://www.rxlist.com/
Description: A very useful drug index, It has an excellent search engine and provides information on both a consumer and professional level. Information on various disease categories is also provided as is Taber's Medical Encyclopedia. An advanced search engine is also available which allows searching by drug name, keyword, imprint code, NDC and medical terminology as well.


Name: Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
URL: http://www.fda.gov
Description: The Food and Drug Administration oversees pharmaceuticals as well as medical devices and their approval. Searching the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research section will link to original approval letters as well as professional and consumer information on prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Although somewhat cumbersome to search, this site is a wealth of drug information for both professionals and consumers.

Name: CenterWatch/Clinical Trials Listing Service
URL: http://www.centerwatch.com
Description: This useful resource lists newly approved drugs; drugs in current clinical research; weekly trial results as well as a link to the PDR Family Medical Guide for Prescription Drugs.

Name: HerbMed
URL: http://www.herbmed.org/index.asp
URL for the Herb List: http://www.herbmed.org/herblist.asp?varAll=All&varName=Scientific
Description: Complementary Medicine: Produced by the Alternative Medicine Foundation, HerbMed provides evidence-based information on the use of herbs for health for both health professionals and the general public. More than 120 different herbs are currently represented in the database (searchable and listed alphabetically). Links are provided to authoritative medical references.

Name: Not-2-late.com: The Emergency contraception website
URL: http://ec.princeton.edu

Description: Not-2-late.com is a comprehensive resource on emergency contraception that is geared toward consumers. The information provided on the site is accurate and current. 

Name: Merck - Medco
URL: http://www.merck-medco.com
Description: Drug Information: Consumer-oriented drug information (click on "Find drug information" on the homepage, then search by drug name), well organized with dates of latest updates to the monographs noted. Also includes a toll-free number with extensions for recorded information about each specific brand name drug.

General (Other) Useful Health Sites:

Name: CenterWatch Clinical Trials Listing Service
URL: http://www.centerwatch.com/
Description: CenterWatch Clinical Trials Listing Service contains trials for many types of diseases. It is searchable by disease categories and geographic area. All of the trials listed are open (enrolling new patients).
Name: ClinicalTrials.gov
URL: http://clinicaltrials.gov
Description: The U.S. National Institutes of Health, through its National Library of Medicine, has developed ClinicalTrials.gov to provide patients, family members and members of the public current information about clinical research studies. Before searching, you may want to learn more about clinical trials and more about this Web site. Check often for regular updates to ClinicalTrials.gov. ClinicalTrials.gov provides easy access to information about the location of clinical trials, their design and purpose, criteria for participation and additional disease and treatment information. Check often for regular updates to ClinicalTrials.gov.


Name: Comparison of Health Information Megasites
URL: http://www.lib.umich.edu/megasite/
Description: Twenty-five Internet sites considered authoritative sources of health information were evaluated using the following criteria: Administration and Quality Control, Content, and Design. Comparisons are made across all sites with specific focus on selection policies, update frequency, response time to e-mail requests, and features such as use of tables, frames, Java, and animated GIFs, navigation tools, and search engines. By librarians: P. F. Anderson, Northwestern University; Nancy Allee, Jean Chung, Brian Westra, University of Michigan; and Virginia Lingle, Pennsylvania State University.


Name: Health Care Information Resources
URL: http://www.liszt.com/select/Health/
Description: Liszt is an enormous directory of Internet discussion groups: mailing lists, newsgroups, and IRC chat channels. It is a way to find groups of people on the 'net discussing whatever it is you really care about. Sometimes just "talking with" someone else who has the same concern is a great help.


Name: Birth Control: Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA)

URL: http://www.plannedparenthood.org

Description: This Website is sponsored by PPFA and the premier non profit advocacy organization for reproductive health care and birth control information/access.

 

Name: Breastfeeding

URL: http://www.lalecheleague.org

Description: La Leche League International is one of the leading authorities on breastfeeding information, especially information for consumers. The purpose of the Web site is to provide a wide range of education and support to breastfeeding mothers.

Name: 

 

Name: ProMoM: Promotion of Mother’s Milk Inc.

URL: http://promom.org

Description: This site identifies the organization as: “a non-profit dedicated to increasing public awareness and public acceptance of breastfeeding.” The information provided on this site is accurate and current.

 

Name: The Nursing Lounge

URL: http://www.parentingweb.com/lounge_index.htm

Description: This is one section of a large parenting site. The purpose of this site is to provide information and interaction for nurturing parents Consumers are the site’s intended audience.

 

Name: Nanny’s Place: Breastfeeding

URL: http://www.moonlily.com/breastfeed

Description: This is a support and information site for breastfeeding mothers and families. It is intended for families, mothers, mothers-to-be, and women considering pregnancy.

 

Name: Medela

URL: http://www.medela.com

Description: This site allows breastfeeding mothers and health care professionals to access information related to the art and science of breastfeeding. It provides support and information on breastfeeding. 


Name: Innerbody - Human anatomy
URL: http://www.innerbody.com/htm/body.html
Description: An interactive site for the study of human anatomy.

 

Name: AMA Physician Select
URL: http://www.ama-assn.org/aps/amahg.htm
Description: Find a Doctor: This is a comprehensive Web database directory of medical doctors (MDs) and osteopaths (DOs) practicing in the United States. Search by physician name or specialty. Information provided includes basic professional data (medical school, year of graduation, board certification, telephone number, address) for both AMA members and non-members.

Name: Quackwatch
URL: http://www.quackwatch.com/
Description: Consumer Information: Quackwatch is a nonprofit company formed by Dr. Stephen Barrett to expose health-related "frauds, myths, fads and fallacies". Well-researched, up-to-date, authoritative information on a wide range of practices and medical advertising deemed questionable or obvious "quackery." English, Spanish, German, French and Portuguese language versions available.

Diet, Nutrition, and Weight Loss:

Name: Foodfit.com
URL: http://www.foodfit.com
Description: This Web site was founded to help consumers lead healthier lives. Information on nutrition and fitness is easily accessed through visually appealing icons on the homepage.

Name: New York Online Access to Health
URL: http://www.noah-health.org
Description: This Web site’s nutrition pages addresses “Nutrition and Pregnancy,” Nutrition and Disease,” Food Biotechnology/Radiation,” and “Nutrition and Children.”

Name: Nutrition Navigator: A Rating Guide to Nutrition Web Sites
URL: http://www.navigator.tufts.edu
Description: This Web site was developed to address two specific concerns Web users have when seeking information: 1) quick access and 2) trustworthy information.

Name: American Dietetic Association
URL: http://www.eatright.org
Description: This Web site is the homepage for the American Dietetic Association. Accessing this site provides information on what is available for consumers and health care providers. Users can obtain information on nutrition and health lifestyles.

Complimentary and Alternative Therapies:

Name: National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine
URL: http://www.nccam.nih.gov
Description: This is the Web site for the center for complimentary/Alternative Medicine at the National Institute of Health. It is a multipurpose site that provides information for health professionals and consumers.

Name: Precious Aromatherapy
URL: http://www.aromatherapy.com
Description: This is a commercial firm which offers extensive information on aromatherapy, including a description of aromatherapy and essential oils and a review of many essential oils, including their botanical and common names.

Name: American Botanical Council
URL: http://www.herbalgram.org

Description: This is the Web site for the American Botanical Council, which is a nonprofit research and education organization. This site has a predominately commercial focus, with selling educational products related to herbal preparation as its main focus.

Important things to Consider when using health websites:

Web users must always make an independent judgment of the quality of the information posted on web sites. Many aspects should be considered. Some are related to the clarity of the information, others to its relevance, yet others to its reliability.

The following list is in no way comprehensive, and is only intended as a reminder of the many pitfalls related to medical information on the Web.

Factors related to clarity may include whether or not:

  • The aims of the site are clear, including topic and target group
  • The information claimed to be provided, is actually provided
  • The information is presented in a clear and unambiguous way
  • Sources of the information are listed
  • The date when the information was produced, reported, revised, and posted on the Web are clearly presented
  • The producer/owner of the site is clearly identified, including name or title, affiliation, e-mail address, and/or phone number of a contact person to whom users can point out erroneous data, and from whom they can receive further information (i.e., web master)
  • The information is organized in a meaningful way, e.g., reflecting degrees of importance
  • The graphic design and layout is functional, e.g., makes the site easy to read and use by logical sequencing

Factors related to relevance include whether or not:

  • The information presented is adapted to the topic and target group, and is applicable to the target group
  • The information is potentially interesting for the target group, i.e., addresses the questions that user might ask, and whether or not recommendations made are realistic and appropriate
  • Sources of information used to compile the site are clearly presented

Factors related to reliability include whether or not:

  • The information is well-documented and supported by solid scientific evidence
  • The magnitude of treatment effects, health risks, etc., are clearly stated
  • The probability of these results being due to chance is assessed, e.g., the statistical significance
  • The presence of irrelevant influencing factors (confounders) is assessed, and accounted for
  • There is a discussion of consistency of the information provided, compared to other relevant sources
  • All important health consequences are presented, as opposed to a selection
  • The site refers to areas of uncertainty
  • The information is current and updated in a timely manner
  • The source is authoritative and without conflict of interest
  • The authors' credentials are satisfactory and relevant
  • The information is balanced and unbiased, or simply reflects a personal point of view (e.g., whether more than one source has been consulted, and whether the information has been externally reviewed, indicating some kind of quality control

Conclusion:

    The quality and variability of information on the Internet are generally recognized as  a problem and there is no agreement on how to resolve them. Rating schemes have been suggested as one possibility, but they have not yet been used by any legal information Websites. Ratings can be used in making assessments, and analyses of Websites.

    There are problems associated with developing a rating form that the general public can use to test a legal information site. Perhaps the form should be designed for subject matter experts, and then the ratings posted as a seal on the reviewed site or as a listing of quality sites included in a clearinghouse. That information would be valuable for both the legal consumer and the site developer.

    If consumers do choose to use the Internet to find legal information, it may be best for them to approach law-related sites as places to gather background data and information on personal legal matters. They may then use this information as the basis for a more informed approach to their lawyer and the legal system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference:

 

1)      Fitzpatrick J. Joyce. The Nurses’ Guide to Consumer Health Web Sites. Springer Publishing Company. 2001.

 

2)      Public Health Management and Policy Class MPHP 439. Guide to Good Websites for Disease. Fourth Edition.

 

3)       Internet Source: Evaluating Websites: Criteria for Assessing the Quality of Health Information on the Internet: http://online.sfsu.edu/~advprac/websites/evaluatingwebsites.htm.

 

4)       Internet Source: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Or Why it’s a Good idea to Evaluate Web Sources: http://lib.nmsu.edu/instruction/evalcrit.html.

 

5)       Internet Source: Evaluating Health Information: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/evaluatinghealthinformation.html.

 

6)       Internet source: A report on the Evaluation of Criteria Sets for Assessing Health Web Sites:http://www.consumerwebwatch.com/news/health/goldschmidt_report.pdf.

 

7)       Internet Source: Evaluating Websites and Information: http://www.namss.org.uk/evaluate.htm.