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USING INTERNET HEALTH SITES
by Ray Carlson


Q. My father frequently contacts me with illness related questions. The questions are not serious enough to tell him to contact his doctor, so I have told him to use Internet health sites. He has tried but has trouble reading them. Is there a site that is reliable but easy to read?

A. Have him try a special NIH (National Institutes of Health) site for seniors. First, this site has a line at the top that allows the reader to increase or decrease the size of the print, change the contrast or have the content read aloud. The information is provided by the NIH and each page indicates when the content was last reviewed by the staff to show it is up-to-date. The person can find a topic by selecting a letter or can click on one of the categories listed. The content has been designed to be easy to follow and includes for each disease: what it is, causes, risks, symptoms, and treatments.

A list of frequently asked questions adds detail. The diagnosis section often includes pictures that can be enlarged by clicking on the picture. Each page presents one paragraph of information and a place to click to go to the next paragraph. This pattern keeps the content from becoming overwhelming. There are also videos on most sections and quizzes to test understanding. Explain that when he clicks on some items like pictures or videos, a new page opens. He will need to close that page to go back to what he was viewing.

Published: Courier 9/19/10 - Page 5C