October is Health Literacy Month

Good health literacy practices begin with improving communication between health care professionals and consumers. Always be open and honest with your doctors and other health care professionals.

Before your appointment:
  • Write down any questions you have for your physician
  • Compile a list of all current medications and supplements

During your appointment:

  • Ask for clarification on any information you do not understand
  • Do not be afraid to ask the physician to use more simple language
  • Request additional resources for further understanding

After your appointment:

  • Know who you can contact with any questions you may think of later
  • Always attend any follow-up appointments your physician may recommend
The Do’s and Don’ts of Finding Good Health Information
When looking for health information for yourself or a loved one online, it is important to follow these eight Do’s and Don’t’s in order to ensure you find the most accurate and reliable sources.
  • Do use common sense
    • Medical situations can be stressful. Be sure to practice good Internet searching techniques even when emotions are heightened. Remember the difference between personal anecdotes and scientific facts, use multiple sources to verify content you find, and do not give out your social security number or other personal identifying information.
  • Don’t buy into an ad
    • Even if a website looks real, it is important to identify whether it is endorsing a product. This generally means that the website is just trying to sell you something. If a product sounds too good to be true, consider that it might just be an ad.
  • Do look for reliable websites
    • You should find websites that promote facts and verified information, rather than opinions. Government and educational sources can use .gov and .edu web addresses, but .org and .com websites can be owned by anyone. While they may still be credible, make sure to identify the website sponsor to see if they are legitimate.
    • Use reputable sites such as The Mayo Clinic¬†or The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to better understand your healthcare needs.
  • Don’t fall for old facts
    • While you may be able to easily see the copyright date of printed information, it is important to know if online information is up-to-date as well. Reliable websites should have the date of the latest revision posted, usually at the bottom of the page.
  • Do look for consumer driven information
    • Many websites will have a section for medical professionals as well as a section for patients or consumers. Information on the consumer side of the website may have easier to understand language and less technical terminology.
  • Do learn key health terms
    • Even though the “medspeak” used by your physicians may be difficult to understand, it is important to learn some of the basic terms they may often use. Visit the Medical Library Association website for a reliable glossary of common health terms.
  • Don’t rely solely on online resources
    • Discuss any and all medical decisions with your health care provider. Many practices have a 24/7 nurse line available where you can direct basic questions about your health needs.
  • Do visit a library to help
    • Whether you visit a specific health library or simply need to find legitimate resources, always turn to the library for assistance.
BU Health Libguides
The resources provided by the Freeman/Lozier library are intended for educational purposes only. Please consult a physician if you have any concerns or questions relating to your health.
Eating Disorders: This guide provides a range of resources on various types of eating disorders, both from a clinical and a practical standpoint.
Health Care Management: Students and laypeople alike can benefit from the wide variety of topics covered in this guide. Users can find information on health care reform, medical policy, health planning, and more.
Stress Management: This guide addresses the broad scope of stress and its underlying causes, from anxiety to work life pressures.
Substance Abuse: Both research and practical viewpoints are addressed in this guide, with information on awareness and resources for aid.
Wellness for Life: This guide informs learners on many areas of day to day health, from maintaining a balanced diet to physical fitness to stress management.

Resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Tradition
The Medical Library Association
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Shape America

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