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NIA/NLM Responses to NNLM Questions and Comments Regarding NIHSeniorHealth Retirement

Posted by on July 14th, 2017 Posted in: Consumer Health, MedlinePlus, NLM Products


Stephanie Dailey from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and Brooke Dine from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) recently developed the following responses to the questions submitted by the NNLM Network about NIHSeniorHealth’s retirement on August 1:

  1. For Senior-related consumer health topics, what resource would NLM recommend?
    NLM and NIA are recommending these resources:
    MedlinePlus: Exercise for SeniorsNutrition for Seniors, and Seniors’ Health.
    NIA: Health and Aging section of the Go4Life web site. The Health and Aging section is being redesigned and will be released at the end of July.
    Information from any information center at NIH related to the specific health condition or disease.
  2. Will the information, quizzes, videos, and other “value-added” pieces be included in another resource, like MedlinePlus? I’m thinking of a topic like Breast Cancer, which has a module for risk factors that is simple and easy to read. Links on the MedlinePlus Breast Cancer topic page seem to go to both patient and provider resources. The only way to know is to click on the numerous links on the page and I’m not sure that seniors will be willing to keep clicking on links until they find one that works.
    NIA/NLM Response
    The site will be retired and the information will not be transferred to another site. The videos will still be available via the NIHSeniorHealth YouTube Channel. Any of the NIH-related resources from related Information Centers such as Cancer.gov include the “NIH” logo next to the link. NIH is committed to plain-language and the NIH-related resources reflect that principle.
  3. What’s going to happen with the Training Toolkit? Public librarians seem to really take to this as it helps them develop any kind of internet/online training for seniors. If there are no plans to continue access to it, several NNLM Coordinators would be willing to take it on and update it as needed.
    NIA/NLM Response
    NNLM Coordinators are welcome to use this model to develop their training resources related to seniors. We recommend you download all of the resources from the toolkit and adapt it to your needs going forward.
  4. How was the decreased usage of NIHSeniorHealth measured? Were multiple resources considered? It would be helpful to know the metrics used for the retirement decision.
    NIA/NLM Response
    The decision to retire NIHSeniorHealth wasn’t based on usage. One of the main drivers was the need to consolidate staff resources needed to create and maintain content. Also, we no longer feel the need to create duplicate content focused solely on seniors since many of the best practices and design features for the web are now senior-friendly and implemented across government websites at NIH.
  5. NIHSeniorHealth was wonderful because of its simplicity. MedlinePlus is a great resource but can be a little overwhelming for those who are new or not used to the internet. NIHSeniorHealth was a great place to start.
    NIA/NLM Response
    We will provide this feedback to the MedlinePlus staff and they can determine how best to improve the senior-related resources. NIA resources have always been and will continue to be focused on older adult and health aging.
  6. The current site has a button that says “Change Contrast” that changes the page to a black background with yellow text (good for those with macular degeneration). Will that feature still be available?
    NIA/NLM Response
    We will not be transferring that feature to MedlinePlus or the NIA site. Many internet browsers have these capabilities built into the technology which allows users to change contrast, text-size, etc. based on their personal preferences.
  7. The decision to eliminate the NIHSeniorHealth website is, in my opinion, totally misguided. Seniors are the largest and fastest growing population in the U.S. Their costs for health care are a disproportionately large part of the health care economy. The National Institute for Aging’s website is a far inferior source of consumer health information. Compare the entries for “glaucoma” on both sites to appreciate the difference. Why are seniors’ health information needs not a priority for NLM?
    NIA/NLM Response
    Health information for older adults continues to be a priority for NLM and NIA and we are committed to continue to provide this information via MedlinePlus and the NIA’s Health and Aging site. The new NIA website will be released at the end of July and will have a more user-friendly interface geared towards all users regardless of age.

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Alan Carr is the Associate Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, based at UCLA.

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