December 28th, 2009

Good online health information article in the Costco magazine

Edit: Forgot to mention the three Tools to get started online aka recommended websites were MedlinePlus, Healthfinder and the Medical Library Association (“can we remove the quotation marks, please?”)

Much to my surprise, there is a great little gem in the January 2010 Costco Connection that also contains plenty of health and nutrition articles, as is expected with all of us making New Year’s resolutions.

On page 39 of the print edition and page 42 online, The Doctor is In(ternet) is neither buried in the depths (99 print/121 online pages) nor lengthy and includes a eye-catching graphic of an Rx sign, stethoscope, monitor & mouse to indicate online health information.

The article begins with a paragraph about Costco members finding health information online to initially counter what their doctor said (a predictable hook), but the next is a quote from Susannah Fox from Pew Internet referring to the internet as ‘an incredible information vending machine’ and the fact that 61% of American adults on it are looking for health information. The specific source wasn’t cited in this article but it’s from the June 11, 2009 Social Life of Health Information report.

The next paragraph was the unexpected kicker for me: introducing the Medical Library Association (MLA)! I’m not all that sure about the content though, does anyone know what the exact MLA source information is for what was ‘found’ below? Edit: Connie herself does, thanks for commenting! The phrasing seems to indicate a study of some sort and the tutorial for health reporters is way out of date (hint, hint MLA…) nor does the surveys & studies page seem applicable.

The Medical Library Association (MLA), a nonprofit organization of health-sciences information professionals, found that people who are more knowledgeable about their health conditions are better healthcare consumers and tend to be happier about their medical experience. Connie Schardt, president of the MLA, advises that you access the Internet before or after seeing your doctor or to gather information on something like the swine flu.

It’s the lack of quotes that concerns me a little since Connie is quoted later on with “Always check more than one site. If the information from multiple sites is consistent, it’s an indication that the information is good.” That definitely sounds like her & the rest of us who are part of MLA since we usually steer clear of that ‘advise’ word.

The quote was included under the  ‘Hone your navigation skills’ header, along with the hallmarks of quality health information online: use unbiased sources, use caution with private sites trying to sell you something, and (my favorite that nobody does) Be sure to check out ‘About Us’ links or try to determine who is actually sponsoring a site and consider if they have a hidden agenda.

Taking it a step beyond traditional health webpages, the next header is ‘Social medical networks’ covering information about sites like, Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault, and ending with

And, with the rapid growth of smart phone apps and wireless access, medical information is certain to be on call more than ever.

Indeed it is. What are we as medical librarians and as an organization doing to meet mobile user needs? The webcast to explain and raise awareness is a start, and I’m inspired by the North Carolina State University Libraries’ mobile website and their fantastic promo video.

3 Responses to “Good online health information article in the Costco magazine”

  1. […] This post was Twitted by pat_devine […]

  2. Connie Schardt says:

    Thanks. I had not seen this yet. Just for the record, I believe I said “studies have found..” I was referring to the Happiness Study out of UAB. ( and the Fact Sheet from (

  3. […] Probably a new year resolution to have more exercise, not that she needs it. She also discusses a good online health information article in the Costco magazine. A lot of suggestions for online health information […]

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