[Skip to Content]
Visit us on Facebook Visit us on FacebookVisit us on YouTube Visit us on YouTubeVisit us on Twitter Visit us on TwitterVisit our RSS Feed View our RSS Feed
Latitudes January 21st, 2021
CategoriesCategoriesCategories Contact UsContact Us ArchivesArchives Region/OfficeRegion SearchSearch



Date prong graphic

Helping New Computer Users Search for Health Information Online: A Plain Language Toolkit for Trainers

Posted by on August 30th, 2012 Posted in: General, MedlinePlus, NLM Products

During my spring 2012 internship, I took on a variety of projects at NN/LM PSR. One of these projects included making modifications to the existing Helping Older Adults Search for Health Information Online: A Toolkit for Trainers to create a toolkit targeting adults, especially those with low literacy skills. Medical information is often dense, complex, and filled with jargon. Readers of all literacy levels benefit from straightforward, plain language and easy-to-read health information. But this course will be focused mostly on helping individuals with below basic and basic literacy levels seek out health information online. The ultimate goal of the course is to help individuals to locate accurate and authoritative health information which will lead them to make better decisions regarding their own health, resulting in changes in behavior and their whole well-being.

Upward arrow depicting the goal of helping new computer users search for health information online

The end result will be an Internet training program to help adults with low literacy find answers to their health questions. Just like its predecessor, it will be a free, downloadable Toolkit for Trainers that accomplishes three valuable goals; teach computer skills to beginners, introduce adults to high quality, easy-to-understand online health information, and help them build Internet search and evaluation skills at the same time.

The toolkit will come with a set of teaching materials that will work with beginning and intermediate students of the web, including easy-to-read lesson plans, student handouts, web searching exercises, illustrated glossaries, and screen shots of web pages visited in class.

The original toolkit focused on resources for seniors, specifically the NIHSeniorHealth website. Modifications to the toolkit focused on providing information and health resources relevant for the general adult population, including MedlinePlus and others. Changes were also made to classroom activities and handouts that make the curriculum more accessible to low literacy students.

Below is the first page of a lesson review from Searching for Health Information Online: An Internet Course for Older Adults. In this module, participants learned how to look up drugs and supplements on MedlinePlus and navigate the site’s medical encyclopedia.

Lesson Review from Searching for Health Information Online

Source: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/toolkit/toolkit.html

Some components of the lesson review remained the same. The handout still relies on images and screen shots to review what was learned during the lesson. And space is reserved to allow students to take notes. Changes that were made to make it more accessible to low literacy audiences can be seen below. The lesson review now focuses on one core piece of information per page rather than two. This allows the reader’s attention to focus on reviewing the information. It also results in more white space, which is less intimidating for readers. Choices were made to include serif and sans serif fonts appropriately, and sentences were shortened to 10-15 words per sentence.

Lesson review from Helping New Computer Users Search for Health Information Online

Now that the toolkit has been drafted, it will go through an editing phase that will include testing and feedback from community literacy experts. If you have any questions about the process or the future availability of the toolkit, please contact NN/LM PSR Consumer Health and Technology Coordinator, Kelli Ham.

Image of the author ABOUT Lynn Kysh

Email author View all posts by

Contact Us

NNLM Pacific Southwest Region
10833 Le Conte Ave. 12-077 Center for the Health Sciences
Box 951798
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1798
Phone: (310) 825-2183
Email: psr-nnlm@library.ucla.edu

Stay Connected

Read the Latitudes newsletter
Join the PSR-News announcement list
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM012341 with the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

NNLM and NETWORK OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE are service marks of the US Department of Health and Human Services | Copyright | Download PDF Reader