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What Health Information Do Consumers Seek Online

The article, What Health Information Do Consumers Seek Online, reminds us that women, seniors and caregivers are the top seekers of online health information. Baby Center identifies that women make most of the decisions for their family’s health care and often go online to look up information in advance of medical appointments. Enspektos, a marketing company, reported that 1/3 of mom’s look up health information daily or every few days, and of mom with apps, 1/2 downloaded a health app.

The NN/LM’s Health Literacy Manual is quoted in the article:

For seniors, the health information they seek is more specialized. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine said, for example, that “older adults use more medical services and acquire more chronic illnesses than other population segments.” Yet the American Academy of Family Physicians found that half of the US seniors it surveyed in March 2012 felt there wasn’t a single online resource where they could find highly credible health information, including information about prescription drugs for the elderly (14%) and preventative medical care for seniors (13%).

More seniors need to learn about National Library of Medicine sites, especially MedlinePlus and NIHSeniorHealth. The National Library of Medicine is a source of highly credible health information that seniors can trust. The information on MedlinePlus must meet Quality Guidelines. The quote from the AAFP may be also related to seniors comfort level with the internet in general. It is also important to note that there are differences within the senior generation, as “boomers” are often more internet savvy than their parents in the “matures” generation.

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine plays a key role in teaching consumers how to find and use National Library of Medicine resources. Librarians are essential to help seniors increase their comfort level with internet searching, learn how to critically evaluate online resources, and become familiar with sources of highly credible health information like MedlinePlus. The NIHSeniorHealth includes a Trainer Toolkit. The Toolkit for Trainers provides free, easy-to-use training materials to help older adults find reliable, up-to-date online health information on their own. The NN/LM offers classes to help librarians connect older adults with health information. These include: Healthy Aging at your Libary: Connecting Older Adults to Health Information, and Senior Moments: Health Information and Older Adults.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project is an excellent source exploring the health information seeking behaviors of Americans. Take a look at their latest report, Health Online 2013.

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