Health Related Web Resources: Somali Community

Prepared by Ellen Howard with the collaboration of Nancy Press and others.

Note: It is not the intention of the project Accessing Online Information for Immigrant and Refugee Health to provide specific medical advice, but rather to help users find information to better understand their health and diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and members of project urge you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.

Find the health information you need : Use it to improve health

Part 1 Objective: Students will see that health information can matter in real life in the Somali community and will be inspired to use information to improve health.

Topics covered: Examples from real life of how health information made a difference in your community. For example, how to get medical coverage in King County. You can find information at the Northwest Justice Project Web Site

Topics of specific interest

Part 2 Objective: Students will learn how to make sense of the page in front of them.

Topics covered: How information is organized: alphabetic, subject, keyword. Use of synonyms. How to scan a page for the information you need.

Many Web sites have an A-Z list of subjects, like Medlineplus . We call this an alphabetic list. "Alcoholism" and "allergies" are next to each other, but they aren't related subject-wise. They just both start with "a." This is a lot like the index in the back of a book. Find the subject DIABETES in the Medlineplus A-Z list.

Many Web sites have subjects grouped so that one subject is next to other similar subjects. Medlineplus has another Web page that shows this kind of arrangement. "Kidneys" and "lungs" are next to each other because they are both parts of the body. This is like the table of contents in the front of a book or magazine. Once you find the general subject, you can often click on that word to get to a more specific topic. On the Medlineplus general subject page, click on ENDOCRINE SYSTEM and then find the more specific subject, DIABETES.

Lots of people like Web sites that let you use "keywords." This means that you can type in any subject word you can think of and often find Web pages that mention that subject. Alltheweb is an example. You can run into problems with this kind of Web site if there are two words that mean sort of the same thing. If I put in the word "AIDS," the system might not be smart enough to know that I wanted information on "Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome" rather than "Hearing Aids." Another danger of keywords is that you might find lots of Web pages that have a very small mention of the word you want, but are really mainly about something else. Try typing the word INSULIN into Alltheweb to see what you get.

Some Web sites have really good keyword search boxes that can guess what you really want. Try typing the same subject INSULIN into the Search box at the top of the Medlineplus page and then click "GO."

What if you are looking at a page and don't see the word you want?

  • If it's a web page, use "find on this page" or "find in page" in the Edit pull down menu
  • If it's a printed page or a PDF page, think of the word or word you want to find and imagine what the word looks like. Then, instead of reading the whole page, just run your eyes quickly down the page looking for just those one or two words.

    Part 3 Objective: Students will understand when the information type has met the need-when what they have found the right kind of answers the question they have.

    Topics covered: What are the kinds of health information? What are the kinds of publications?

    Research articles have information written by doctors and nurses for doctors and nurses to read. They are often hard to understand if you haven't learned the special words in nursing school or medical school. An example is:
    Should elderly patients be told they have cancer? Questionnaire survey of older people , by A Ajaj, specialist registrar, M P Singh, senior house officer, and A J J Abdulla, consultant physician

    The information from research articles is often used by health educators to write articles specifically for the rest of us to read. An example is: Finding a Balance , by Mayo Clinic health educators. Most of the information you will find in Medlineplus or Healthfinder is this kind of information.

    Many researchers and government agencies collect statistics and make up charts. Charts often give information about hundreds or thousands of people, but don't usually have very specific information about your health. See an example at: A Profile of Older Americans

    Sometimes experts get together and come to an agreement on what their research really means to most people. An example is Anthrax as a Biological Weapon . Often health educators take those agreements and write up information that is easier to read for the rest of us. See an example at: Frequently Asked Questions About Anthrax

    The information written by the health educators is often the very best for us consumers.

    Newspapers, TV stations, and radio stations often tell us just a little bit about the topic. When you see something on TV you are usually just seeing one little piece of the whole picture. See an example at: CDC Deploys Teams to Give Anthrax Vaccine

    Part 4 Objective: Students will be able to make an educated guess about who might collect and/or publish the health information they need.

    Topics covered: who publishes medical information: universities, governments, non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, individuals. Where will the information be published? Think about who wants you to have information for free. If someone wants you to have information for free, you'll probably find it on the Web. For example, if CocaCola wants you to know that Coke tastes good, you don't have to pay to hear it! To find out if a group, organization, or company has a web site, put the name of the group or company into the search box of Alltheweb and see if you find a web site.


    Universities and schools

    Non-profit organizations' information

    Commercial information and ads

    Labors of love

    Any person's opinions

    Part 5 Objective: Students will have the skills to choose the information of the best quality that meets the need.

    Topics covered: quality filtering of health information. Several different ways of evaluating what you read about health.

    How do you know what information to believe? Here are some hints to help you know what's best for you:
    Is this information good for me?

    ¡También en Español! ¿Como puede saber si la información le sirve?

    You Be the Judge! Evaluating Information for Reliability from Washington State Library .

    For your community, some ways of making sure the information is good are:



    Part 6 Objective: Students will be able to state their health questions in such a way that answers can be looked for and found.

    Topics covered: Rephrasing questions, pulling a question apart to see its elements, using synonyms, thinking of alternatives.

    Think of a question lots of people in your community have: _______________________________________

    One part of the question might be words that describe you or your community. Think of the different words that might be used: ___________________________ (Examples: female, woman, teen, teenager, child)

    Another part of the question might be words that describe the health problem. Think of the different words that might be used: ______________________________________ (Examples: overweight, obese, heavy)

    Now, type each of those words, one at a time, in the search box in Medlineplus.

    Part 7 Objective: Students will see some good health sites or other sites specific to their communities.

    Health Information

    Health-Related Information about or for the Somali community

    Cultural Information Links

    Part 8 Objective: Students will find some good information on a health topic.

    Topics covered: Actual search strategy.

    One topic that lots of people in your community are interested in is _________________________ Try to find web pages on that topic that you think your sister or brother would read and that might make your sister or brother healthier.

    Part 9 Objective: Students will appropriately use health information they find.

    Topics covered: How to combine various pieces of health information to arrive at a synthesis that meets the needs. How to use health information to make a decision.

    How many different Web sites did you find?

    Did all the writers agree or did you find different opinions?

    If you found different opinions, using the rules in Part 5 to decide which to believe.

    What decision could your brother or sister make using the information you found? If they couldn't have made a decision yet, find more information!

    Part 10 Objective: Students will be able to tie the pieces of the information-seeking process together.

    Topics covered: Practice in going through the whole process from beginning to end.

    1. Think about a health concern of your own.

    2. Think about all the ways to describe yourself.

    3. Think of all the different words that describe your concern.

    4. Who might want to help you with your concern? See if that group or company has a web site and check their web site for any information that might help. If you find something good, make it a favorite.

    5. See if you can find information on your health concern in Medlineplus, Healthfinder, and all the other sites listed in Part 7. If you find something good, make it a favorite.

    6. Look at everything you have found, by going back to your favorites. Do the sites agree or disagree? If they disagree, decide which you will believe.

    7. What decision can you make about your health concern? (The decision might just be: "I'm probably just fine, but I'll keep an eye on it." OR, the decision might be: "Maybe I should go to a clinic.") If you can't yet make a decision, would another piece of information help? If you think you need another piece of information, see if you can find it!

    8. If you can't find the information you need, it's time to ask your doctor or nurse or call your clinic.

    Curriculum designed by Nancy Press