The Internet can be a great source of information when you are learning about your child’s illness and treatment options. But choosing a reliable source is not always easy. Sometimes it is hard to know if information on the Web is based on sound fact, personal opinion, or a desire to sell a product or service.
Still, many Web sites do provide accurate and helpful health information. The Medical Library Association* suggests that you consider these questions when judging the usefulness of health information on the Web:
- Who sponsors the Web site? Be sure the Web site hosts and their qualifications are clearly identified. Credible sources include medical associations, hospitals, medical centers, and medical schools. The makers of medical products, including drug companies, often have good information but do not include information about competing products.
- Is the site current? Has it been updated recently?
- Is the information factual or does it represent opinions? If opinions, whose perspectives are being presented? Those of qualified professionals?
- Is the Web site intended for medical professionals or the general public?
*Excerpted with permission from the Medical Library Association’s “Find Good Health Information,” found at www.mlanet.org/p/cm/ld/fid=398.
Good places to start
Here are resources you can use to begin your research on the Web. These sites are reviewed by qualified medical professionals and are updated often.
Patient and Family Resources (www.stjude.org/patientresources) is a section of the St. Jude website that offers information about diseases, medicines, clinical trials, and other treatments. From this page, you can read and print the Do You Know educational materials, Patient Medication materials, and St. Jude Parents newsletter.
MedlinePlus® (www.medlineplus.gov) is the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Web site for consumer health information. MedlinePlus can direct you to reliable information on more than 400 health topics. The site also offers drug information, medical dictionaries, and directories of hospitals and doctors. MedlinePlus provides health information in English and Spanish. It also offers easy-to-read materials and videos.
Healthfinder® (www.healthfinder.gov) offers an online health library maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This library contains quick reference sheets on hundreds of diseases and conditions. It also features a guide to medical tests and surgeries, plus a drug database. Information is presented in English and Spanish.
The Merck Manual Consumer Version (www.merckmanuals.com/home) offers in-depth information about medical conditions in everyday language. It is based on the Merck Manual, one of the most widely used medical textbooks in the world. The Linda R. Hajar Family Resource Center also has a print copy of this user-friendly guide.
KidsHealth (www.kidshealth.org) offers health information written especially for teens and younger children. It also contains a section for parents. It is a good source of kid-friendly explanations about medical conditions, tests, and procedures.
Websites for specific medical conditions
American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org): National non-profit group focused on fighting cancer through education, advocacy, and research. This Web site contains information in English, Spanish, and Asian languages. Type “childhood cancer” into this site’s search window.
National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov): Government agency dedicated to cancer research, training, and education. This Web site contains information in English and Spanish. Young People with Cancer: A Handbook for Parents is offered free of charge on this Web site.
Candlelighters (www.candle.org): A non-profit group whose mission is to educate, support, serve, and advocate for families of children with cancer and for childhood cancer survivors. This Web site contains information for parents and links to resources for young children and teens.
Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the United States (www.pbtfus.org): A non-profit group focused on fighting pediatric brain tumors through education, advocacy, and research. This Web site contains information for parents, patients, survivors, and siblings. Educational booklets also are offered in Spanish. To order these booklets, e-mail email@example.com or call 800-253-6530.
American Brain Tumor Association (www.abta.org): A national non-profit group providing a full range of resources and serving the complex supportive care needs of brain tumor patients and caregivers from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.
Infectious diseases and immune disorders
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (www.niaid.nih.gov): Government agency that conducts research and training in the area of infectious diseases, allergies, and immune disorders. The “Health and Science” section of this Web site contains information on many infectious diseases treated at St. Jude.
National Human Genome Research Institute (www.genome.gov): Government agency that conducts research and training in the area of human genetics. The “Health” section of this Web site contains information on specific genetic disorders. It also explains how to contact the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) for more information.
The Family Resource Center staff can give you other Web site suggestions and help you with searches. To learn more, call 901-595-4639. If you are in the hospital, dial 4639. If you are outside the Memphis area, call toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833) extension 4639.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).
ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).
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