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To Your Health! Finding Health and Medical Information Online

Program Description

As people age and healthcare becomes more complicated, questions about procedures, diseases, and treatment options become more frequent. Yet doctors have less time to spend with patients answering questions and helping with decisions. The internet is readily available, but finding the answers can be tricky-which sites are reliable? What does good information look like? Where can you go for unbiased information? This program helps participants sort out the options and find what they need.


  • Where to begin research
  • How to assess a health or medical information Web site
  • When and how to use online communities for information and support
  • What kinds of information are and aren't appropriate for web research


  • Hospital librarian
  • Local public or academic librarian
  • Local medical practitioner (in tandem with one of the above)


  • This program can be a 2-hour program but can last much longer if participants want to do research afterwards.
  • Preparation time: 1 - 1½ hours.

Learn More About It

  • MedlinePlus and the U. S. National Library of Medicine. Evaluating Health Information. Bethesda, MD.: U. S. National Library of Medicine, 2006. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/evaluatinghealthinformation.html. The best and most comprehensive guide to finding and evaluating medical information online. Includes information on specific conditions, for seniors, and information in Spanish.
  • Medical Library Association. A User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web. Chicago, IL: Medical Library Association, 2005. www.mlanet.org/resources/userguide.html. A friendly, user-oriented guide to finding information, including links to the MLA's "Top 10" resources.
  • Winker, Margaret, et al. Guidelines for Medical and Health Information Sites on the Internet. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association, 2000. http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/1905.html. Describes the history of online health information as well as the AMA's guidelines for health Web sites.
  • U. S. Food and Drug Administration. Buying Medicines and Medical Products Online. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Food and Drug Administration; U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006. http://www.fda.gov/oc/buyonline/default.htm. Great Web site linking to FDA information and guidance for buying medical supplies online.

Make It Special

  • Prepare and distribute short guides to books in your collection and good Web sites on specific conditions or topics (i.e. dietary supplements, diabetes, travel medicine)
  • Team up with a local practitioner to offer free blood pressure checks or other screening.

Market It

Fitness centers/gyms/YMCA, local hospitals, doctors' offices, churches, health food stores, grocery or drugstores.

  • Montana State Library
  • P.O. Box 201800, 1515 East 6th Avenue
  • Helena, MT 59620-1800
  • Phone: (406) 444-3115
  • Fax: (406) 444-0266
  • msl.mt.gov