I chose to do my website evaluation on MedlinePlus. I had heard about this website but I had never accessed it. I thought this would provide me with an opportunity to learn more about what this website provides for the general public as well as the health care professional. Relevance of Website
MedlinePlus is a popular site for consumers with 37,100,000 visitors for the months of October through December of 2010 (MedlinePlus, 2011). You can find information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues which range from general information to more age appropriate information for seniors, men, women, and children. The site provides health related information to the consumer and is also a resource for health professionals, which makes this site relevant to both the public and Nursing Informatics.
Description of Criteria used for Evaluation
The criteria I used to evaluate MedlinePlus were currency, accuracy, appearance and usability, credibility, relevance, and financial cost. The site needs to be up to date and easy to navigate. It should provide accurate, evidenced based information to be useful for the consumer as well as the health care professional.
MedlinePlus stays current by reviewing their health topic pages at least every 6 month. There are new links added daily. On the health topic pages there are two dates listed in the footer note that indicates when information was last added or removed from that page and a date that shows when the entire topic was last reviewed. The update dates for the external pages are all different and depend on the schedule of the sponsoring organization. The current copyright date for the dictionary is 2010. “AHFS Consumer Medication Information from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists is updated monthly. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version is updated quarterly. Interactive Health Tutorial: Updates annually. Medical Encyclopedia: Update monthly. News: Updated every weekday. Reuters and HealthDay news stories remain on the site for 90 days” (MedlinePlus, 2011).
The information on a website is only valuable to the consumer and health care provider if it is accurate. MedlinePlus obtains their information from the United States National Library of Medicine, the Nation Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The source of the content is established, respected and dependable. The organization publishes a list of advisory board members and consultants on the site” (MedlinePlus, 2010).
When I looked up information in the section about conditions, disease, and preventative information I found that the information was well organized and easy to use. The illustrations were clear and appropriate and helped to unite the subject matter. The authors of the articles were listed individually along with their qualifications. There is a section that is updated daily that contains the health news for the day. When I was reviewing this information I found that the articles cited where they got their information, but not the qualifications of the original author. Appearance and Usability
The page layout for the website makes it easy to navigate. I found it easy to look up information on disease, conditions and wellness issue. I like that the information is available in Spanish and it provides a customer service link and phone number for persons with disabilities that require special adaptive equipment or encounter problems.
I could find information by either entering the name or typing in the first letter for the information I wanted to look up. There are demographic groups for men, women, children, and seniors. There is a link to the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, a medical encyclopedia, drug information on generic, brand name prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, as well as herbal and dietary supplement information. You can find the health news for the day or search clinical trials that are being conducted in your area or on a specific disease. You can use their directory to find physicians, dentists, hospitals, clinics and other health care providers. The two sites that I found most interesting were the videos of surgical procedure and human anatomy, and the interactive health tutorial that use animations and sound to explain conditions and procedures. Credibility
Medline Plus is a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health. The currency in which the website is updated, as well as the accuracy of the articles contributes to the credibility of Medline Plus. In 2005 MedlinePlus received the World Summit Award which “selects and promotes the world's best e-content and most innovative ICT applications” (WSA, 2010). In March of 2010 MedlinePlus was verified with the “HONcode”. The HONcode “is the oldest and the most used ethical and trustworthy code for medical and health related information available on the internet” (HONcode). In 2004 they received the Thomson ISI/Frank Bradway Rogers Information Advancement Award which is given for “recognition and support of the valuable contributions they have made to the health sciences librarianship profession” (MLA, 2007). Medline has also been recognized by the Family WebGuide which “selects sites that have the highest quality child development research and that are parent friendly” (Children & Family WebGuide). They have also been recognized in various other media outlets such as radio, magazines, and television. Relevance
MedlinePlus is a popular website that allows the general public information to reliable health care information. The links to additional articles allows the health care provider to delve deeper into disease process. On MedlinePlus, you can sign up to receive e-mail updates on the health topics that matter the most to you, as well as looking up the current health news. I found this site to be useful and accurate and I know that I will continue to utilize the information that it provides. Financial Cost
The information that MedlinePlus provides is free of charge. Registration is not required to view the information on the site. You do not need to provide personal information unless you want to provide your e-mail address to get updated information on a topic of interest to you. You can access articles, download information and print without being charged.
MedlinePlus provides useful information that is valuable to the general public as well as the health care provider. It has high standards for maintaining the accuracy and the credibility of their site. It is user friendly and I found it easy to navigate. If there is any drawback to the website it is the daily Health News Section. Even though it is updated daily the articles appear to be information that was reported in the news earlier in the week. I would recommend this site as a resource to anyone searching for medical information. I would suggest that they begin the search in the About Your Health section on the homepage. I found this section to be the most beneficial. It provides valuable basic information to the public on general health, diseases, and preventative medicine, but it also allows the health care provider the opportunity to delve deeper into a subject matter. Using the evaluation criteria was helpful to me in determining the credibility and accuracy of MedLine Plus.
Children & Family WebGuide. (n.d.). Research News. Retrieved from