We have all Googled “Covid-19” to find the latest results of what is happening in our neighbourhood and around the world. Rather than reading a fiction dystopia or a non-fiction war piece, we are reading about the daily war against this pandemic. The onslaught of information–“information overload,” as we information professional call it–makes it especially difficult to parse fact from fiction as new revelations comes to light (often information that contradicts past wisdom). The sheer abundance and efficacy of information are always tenuous factors when searching for health information, and this is especially true as events remain dizzyingly fluid. Even during a pandemic, however, people still get sick (non-Covid-19 related) and continue to cope with chronic diseases. Maladies of all sorts have dissipated from our collective consciousness (Covid-19 is taking up all of our bandwidth, understandably), but you might have found yourself at a lost finding reliable health information among the dislocating rabble. This post will briefly outline 3 free online health resources that you can turn to for updated and reliable health information.
York Region has a health landing page that will give you the latest updates on Covid-19 as well as numerous other health topics including: dental, food safety, cancer, immunizations, nutrition, and parenting. This page is especially relevant for you as it will outline resources in our neighbourhood and is updated frequently. A great addition to this website is the ability to directly message York region professionals with your questions or concerns under the “connect with us” banner. This should be a staple among your resources for finding reliable health community updates.
HealthLinkBC is a superb consumer resource that has detailed files on an abundance of health topics. All the information has been vetted by health professionals and this website is a Canadian resource that is used by lots of hospitals for patients and their families. The website offers comprehensive health information that summarizes different topics–and provides links to peer review and meta-data studies. This resource has a copious amount of information, in particular on mental health, substance abuse, healthy eating, physical activity, and medication (use the search bar in the top right corner for best results). There are videos on numerous topics as well as interactive tools for home use. This website has some topics in 8 different languages–Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese–besides English. Importantly, the information provided is in “plain language” (at a grade 4-6 level) in order to relay the necessary information to the reader while being aware of the various literacy (and health) levels Canadians might have. The website host a “Factsheet Generator” that you can use to gather information on a particular topic into a digestible PDF for printing for family members that are technology averse. This website has been a staple for me since becoming a librarian.
Medline Plus is under the auspices of the NIH US National Library of Medicine. It focuses on various consumer health topics as well as an immense archive of drug information. When looking for health information online, it is crucial to cross-examine your information to ensure the rigor of your findings. Uniquely, MedlinePlus offers free access to American drug information. Whether through text or video, Medline Plus offers users a simple to use solution for health informatics. Medline Plus has a unique feature among health websites: it has a selection of free interactive games to help learn about a subject. Gamified topics include: Sleep for Kids, Food Safety, Body Parts, National Drug and Alcohol IQ Challenge, Braille, and Stinging Insect Matching Game. Medline Plus is a great resource to cross-check your research.
There are a lot of sources for health information, but there are only a few consistently reliable ones that produce peer-to-peer vetted information that is accessible to the public. Vaughan Public Libraries will be opening a branch in the upcoming Mackenzie Hospital (slated to open in 2021). To read updates on the upcoming hospital branch, and all upcoming branches, you can find our building projects blog here. If you need more help finding reliable health information, feel free to email me at <firstname.lastname@example.org> for directions. Stay healthy by staying informed.