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New Multilingual Feature Introduced on MedlinePlus

On May 7, 2008, a new feature became available on MedlinePlus, which provides access to high quality health information in languages other than English and Spanish. The new service benefits people who prefer to read health information in their native language. It also helps the information professionals and health care providers who serve them. The collection contains over 2,500 links to information in more than 40 languages and covers nearly 250 Health Topics. Over the years, many MedlinePlus users have requested this enhancement, which helped lead to the development of this important service.


NN/LM PSR members might be interested to see materials in Chamorro, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Chuukese, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Martialese, Samoan, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese.

The new collection of health information in multiple languages is not meant to be comprehensive. As with the English and Spanish collections, MedlinePlus staff selects materials for the new collection according to established quality guidelines. Materials must be produced by the United States Federal government or a U.S.-based organization, such as a medical association or a hospital. The producer must describe the translation, review and updating process. In addition, the content must be appropriate for a U.S. consumer audience, and it must be authoritative and current. MedlinePlus staff also looks for English equivalents to the multilingual information.

Users can navigate the new collection of health information in multiple languages either by language or by topic. The page listing all of the languages covered in the collection is linked from the MedlinePlus homepage. Users can browse the languages or link to the page listing all of the topics covered. In addition, a languages box displays on the right-hand side of the English Health Topics pages. The languages box lists the languages with links on that topic in MedlinePlus. Users can also search the new collection of health information in multiple languages. A new collection called Multiple Languages appears on the MedlinePlus search results pages. Finally, an interactive world map teaches users about the number of people who speak nine of the languages in the MedlinePlus collection. The languages – Arabic, Chinese, French, Korean, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese – are among those most frequently spoken at home in the United States, other than English, according to the U.S. census.


An article describing this feature, along with several illustrative figures, is available from the NLM Technical Bulletin. The MedlinePlus trifold brochure has also been updated with information about this feature, and is available from the “Print Handouts” selection of the “Quick Links” menu on the NN/LM PSR home page.

Editor’s Note: Adapted from an article distributed by the MedlinePlus Team.

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