Websites providing easy-to-read info

Quick reference guide for PEMs

As a consumer health librarian at The Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, Abigail Jones, MLIS, MS, has become skilled at selecting websites that provide appropriate information for patients and families who may not read well or have low health literacy.

Following are a few of her favorites:

— MedlinePlus (

This website has information on how to write easy-to-read materials in four steps. Information covers planning and research, organizing and writing the information, language and writing style, and visual presentation and representation. The health education documents written in this easy-to-read format are listed in alphabetical order.

— KidsHealth (

KidsHealth has three sections, with materials for parents, kids, and teens. "For low-literacy adults, I often use the kids' site, not the parent site," says Jones.

Categories in the kids' section include information on illnesses,injuries, and health problems and a medical dictionary. The parent section includes selections on general health, infections, emotions and behaviors, growth and development, nutrition and fitness, medical problems, first aid and safety, and medications.

— NIH SeniorHealth (

Jones says this website is an excellent example of good design and layout. Topics can be accessed alphabetically. The site provides a printer-friendly version in its entirety on selected sections such as symptoms and diagnosis.

Buttons at the top of the page allow site users to enlarge the text, change text color, or hear the text read aloud.

— Health information websites

The Ohio State University Medical Center and Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute has produced handouts that include guidelines for evaluating health information on websites along with a list of trustworthy and up-to-date sites for consumers.

These include the following:

— General health websites (

— Nutrition and food websites (

— Cancer related websites (