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hen it comes to your health and taking care of your body, it’s important to have accurate information at hand to help you make decisions. While calling a doctor or nurse to get the information needed is one option, turning to the mil‐ lions of web‐based health resources available to consumers online might be more convenient. However, finding solid health information might not be as easy as it sounds: Sorting the good information from the bad information online can be tricky, frustrating or even dangerous. How do you know what makes a source of information valid? A little thing librarians call “information literacy.”

Health info literacy 101: The basics

According to information from the Medical Library Association (MLA), there are a few important factors to consider with health information literacy: Sponsorship: If a website is backed by a well‐known medical group like the American Cancer Society or American Dental Association, chances are the info there is up to the rigid standards set by these organizations. The web address: Websites ending in .gov are owned by a government agency; those ending in .edu are owned by an educational institution; those ending in .org belong to an organization; and web addresses with .com are owned by a commercial company. For the most part, .gov and .edu websites can be relied on for relevant information, while those belonging to organiza‐ tions or commercial groups might need a little more analyzing – it’s important to look at sponsorship in these cases. Currency: It’s important to be aware of recent findings when it comes to your health: The way some symptoms or ailments are monitored and treated are always changing as new options become available. Good sources of infor‐ mation are up to date, and the date of the most recent revision should be posted. Factual information: Make sure the information you’re looking at is based on fact and not the opinion of just a few professionals.

Sources: Medical Library Associa-on: h.p:// Compiled by Laura Isaacs, Poplar Bluff Public Library. Visit for more informa-on.

MLA’s best comsumer health websites ( is the official website for The National Cancer Institute (NCI), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Centers for Disease Control and Pre‐ vention (, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, is dedicated to promoting “health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, in‐ jury, and disability.” (http://family is operated by the Ameri‐ can Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a national medical organization representing more than 93,700 family physicians, family practice residents and medical students.

Healthfinder ( is a gateway consumer health information website whose goal is “to improve consumer access to se‐ lected health information from govern‐ ment agencies, their many partner organizations, and other reliable sources that serve the public interest.” Kidshealth ( provides doctor‐approved health information about children through adolescence.

MayoClinic (http://www.mayoclinic. com/) is an extension of the Mayo Clinic’s commitment to provide health education to patients and the general public. Editors of the site include more than 2,000 physicians, scientists, writ‐ ers,and educators at the Mayo Clinic.

MedlinePlus (http://medlineplus .gov/) is the National Library of Medi‐ cine’s website for consumer health in‐ formation. The site offers authoritative, up‐to‐date health information.

NOAH: New York Online Access to Health (http://www.noah‐ is a unique collection of state, local, and federal health resources for con‐ sumers. NOAH’s mission is “to provide high‐quality, full‐text information for consumers that is accurate, timely, rele‐ vant and unbiased. HIV InSite ( is a project of the University of Califor‐ nia San Francisco (UCSF) AIDS Research Institute.

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