Center for Public Health Nutrition

Quality Health Information on the Web: A Tool KitOverview of MedlinePlus Features

MedlinePlus LogoMedlinePlus, a service of the National Library of Medicine, offers a comprehensive source of health information including over 800 topics including nutrition, diseases, drugs and wellness. MedlinePlus also includes information in Spanish and information in an easy-to-read format.

MedlinePlus has several excellent tours and tutorials available, however these training resources do not provide examples tailored to the needs of school staff, parents and students. This tool kit, Finding Quality Health Information to Support Student Health, will help you to learn how to use MedlinePlus specifically when you are asking questions about student health topics.

Also available on this Web site is a lesson plan that aims to increase the capability of high school students to access and evaluate quality health information while establishing MedlinePlus as a recognized health information resource.

Why MedlinePlus? 

It is a source that provides access to the latest information on health.  All links in MedlinePlus must meet the Quality guidelines established by the National Library of Medicine.

How does that compare to surfing on the web?

Before using a website a consumer must determine if a website is reliable and up-to-date. However many websites are serving commercial purposes.  It is not easy for busy consumers to verify information on web sites.  (See Tips to Identify Accurate and Reliable Health Information.)

Overview of MedlinePlus Features

Here is a quick description of MedlinePlus but we invite you to try our brief tutorial "Finding Quality Health Information to Support Student Health".

Features:  Consistent Organization

Information is presented as health topics.  Each topic has the same organization so you always know where to find the type of information you want. 

All topics contain these sections:

  • An opening brief description
  • 'Start Here'
  • 'Related Topics'
  • A table with subgroups: Basics, Learn More, Multimedia & Cool Tools, Research, Reference Shelf, For You.  Each of these groups contains links to more resources.  All links in MedlinePlus must meet the quality guidelines.

Here is an example from the topic 'Nutrition':

nutrition screenshot

Features:  Age specific information

MedlinePlus allows you to find health information for specific age groups in the section 'For You' shown above.  Here you will find information specific to children and teens.  Students will find useful information on their nutrition questions and health needs by accessing these links. 

Here is another approach to limit searches by age group.  Open MedlinePlus and select 'Health Topics'.  From the 'Health Topics' page select 'Children and Teenagers' from the Demographics Group.

age specific information screenshot

This will take you to the list of health topics that apply specifically to children such as:

  • 'Obesity in Children'
  • 'Child Nutrition'
  • 'Type I Diabetes' (information specific to children)
  • and many others

Features:  Language options

MedlinePlus offers search options and topic pages in Spanish using the tab as shown below:

Language Options Screenshot

Other links on topic pages are available in other languages.

Features:  Search Options

We invite you to experience browsing in MedlinePlus to explore school health topics.  Below is a description of options for accessing information. 

Two ways to search for health information on MedlinePlus are:

  • “Health Topics” located at the far left
    For information on obesity, for instance, click on Health Topics, locate the “Health and Wellness” heading and click on “Food and Nutrition” for a list of related topics in alphabetical order.
    Also, use Health Topics by selecting the first letter of a topic. For example, select the letter “D” for information on Diabetes or Dietary Guidelines.
  • “Search MedlinePlus” box located under the website logo.
    Use Search MedlinePlus by typing in a topic of interest, such as tobacco. This links to a webpage with broad related categories.
    Locate and click on the topic of interest.

Both methods link to a webpage that contain the definition of the topic and related links to more information.

Other Tips:

  • Use Interactive Tutorial for an overview of a topic, including sound, pictures and quizzes.
  • Click “Home” to begin a new search.

Go To

Tutorial - School Health Topics

Tips for Finding Accurate Health Information on the Web

adapted from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/training/trainers.html