The number of nurses who search for health information on the World Wide Web is increasing every year. Whether you need the information for patient care or for personal reasons, it is important to be able to find reliable and current information resources.
Sometimes the information you get from searching the Internet is just what you need. But very often nurses may end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed because they get lost in enormous amounts of information, fail to locate what they need or are not sure whether the retrieved information is accurate and unbiased. Choosing a favorite search engine such as Google or Yahoo! and entering a disease or medical condition can often result in hundreds, even thousands, of “hits.” Sorting through it all to find information that is trustworthy can be time-consuming and even discouraging.
Nurses who work with pediatric patients are involved in patient and parent education on a daily basis. In today’s racially, ethnically and culturally diverse America--where, according to the U.S. Census, one out of every four people is non-Caucasian--it is essential for pediatric nurses to be aware of high-quality, multicultural Internet resources they can search for credible health information or recommend to patients and families from a wide diversity of backgrounds.
As nurses know, written patient education materials can be used to support or supplement any oral instruction given to patients. Patients and families whose native language is not English need to receive easy-to-understand reading materials, preferably in their native language, because they are more likely to experience difficulty in understanding verbal instructions delivered to them for the care of their child.
Health literacy is defined as the ability to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Studies have shown that racial and ethnic minority patients are disproportionately affected by health literacy problems. Parents who are challenged by their low level of health literacy can face many barriers to getting reliable, up-to-date information related to their child’s health. For example, they may be unaware of existing resources or tools, or lack skills in locating and evaluating health information on the Internet. Or, as a result of the “digital divide,” they may lack access to a computer altogether. This is why it is so important for pediatric nurses to be familiar with quality online health resources they can recommend or download for these families.
The following is a list of selected pediatric health resources on the Web that nurses may find useful. The Web sites are listed in alphabetical order. While not all of them are multicultural, many do offer bilingual or multilingual patient education materials, information on health conditions that disproportionately affect children of color, research data on minority children’s health or links to other culturally competent resources.
American Academy of Pediatrics
The official Web site of the AAP offers a wealth of information on pediatric health topics, including pages created specifically for families and for health care providers. On the Parenting Corner page, parents can learn what different pediatric subspecialists are, find out where to locate a pediatrician or pediatric specialist, order titles from the parenting bookstore and read articles about featured health topics such as immunizations and car safety seats. The Health Topics section features valuable information resources related to health promotion, community health, violence prevention, literacy, and Native American children’s health.
Children First for Health
This attractive Web site from the United Kingdom contains more than 1,000 pages of health information for children, teenagers and parents in 10 different languages, including English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Turkish. While much of the material on the site is geared toward residents of the UK, the information provided can help fill the gap of multilingual pediatric health education materials.
Children’s Health Environmental Coalition
The Children’s Health Environmental Coalition (CHEC) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public--specifically, parents and caregivers--about environmental toxins that affect children’s health. Interactive features in the Web site’s HealtheHouse section include Virtual House (a virtual tour of common home environmental health risks) and My Home Quiz, which enables users to receive personalized assistance in identifying and eliminating their household risks.
The Children’s Heart Institute
This award-winning site, created by pediatric cardiologist Hasan Abdallah, MD, presents pediatric cardiology in simple language so that kids with heart problems and their families can understand how the heart works. The site’s excellent Patient Education page includes The Heart House, a simplified illustration of the structure and inner workings of the heart. There is also a Medications page with information for doctors and nurses on pediatric cardiology drugs and their recommended doses.
Sponsored by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, this Web site offers easy access to statistics and reports on children’s and family health topics as well as socioeconomic issues affecting children’s health. A key feature of the site is the America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Children’s Well-Being report, which contains extensive information relating to minority children’s health and health disparities. ChildStats also offers links to tables and databases comparing the well-being of children in the U.S. with those in other countries.
FirstGov for Kids: Health Page
Maintained by the Federal Citizen Information Center, FirstGov for Kids is a kid-friendly gateway to a wealth of annotated Web resources from governmental, educational and commercial sites. On the Health page, kids can find answers to questions about healthy eating and exercise, living with a disability, smoking, drug abuse, girls’ health issues and much more.
This site, produced by a physician and partially supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides an extensive collection of links to pediatric health information resources selected from over 400 Web sites. GeneralPediatrics.com’s central feature is a pair of easily searchable A-to-Z guides to common pediatric health problems--one for health professionals, the other for patients and families. Topics covered include asthma, diabetes, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), suicide prevention and many more. The section for patients includes a link to an excellent selection of Multilingual Patient Education Resources in many different languages.
Health Information Sheets
Here you’ll find downloadable information sheets on various children’s health topics--such as childhood obesity, asthma, depression and child passenger safety--created by medical experts at Children’s Hospital Boston. Parents can also search the site for information about a wide variety of other pediatric health conditions. This Web site is part of a partnership with Yahoo! in which Children’s provides pediatric content to Yahoo! Health. Additional pediatric health information can be found at http://health.yahoo.com/centers/parenting/.
Health Topics: Infants and Children
A collection of informational resources on pediatric health issues from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Topics include immunizations, fetal alcohol syndrome, disabilities, lead poisoning, SIDS and Kawasaki Syndrome, a disease that disproportionately affects Asian children. Detailed information on each topic is provided along with links to other related health resources.
Indian Health Service Kids Page
Created by the IHS especially for kids, this site is enhanced with multimedia features and a variety of attention-grabbing tools--such as word-finds, a comic book and interactive quizzes--to teach young people about health and safety while exploring their Native American cultural heritage. The site includes many resources designed to teach kids decision-making skills about alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gangs, bullying and domestic abuse. While not all of the health information is specific to American Indians and Alaska Natives, the extensive collection of links relating to Native American history, culture, art and story-telling make this site a valuable educational resource.
A project of the Nemours Foundation, KidsHealth provides doctor-approved health information in English and Spanish about children ranging in age from before birth through adolescence. Separate sections of age-appropriate content for kids, teens and parents include original articles, videos, games and expert resources that are accurate, up-to-date and easily understood. Examples of topics covered include prenatal care, nutrition and fitness, asthma, diabetes, sickle cell disease, teen suicide prevention and teen sexual health.
MedlinePlus: Children’s Health Page
MedlinePlus, from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, has a special collection of reliable, up-to-date child health information resources that health professionals and health consumers will both find helpful. The links are organized into categories such as diagnosis/symptoms, treatment, prevention/screening, research, statistics and financial issues. Many resource links under each topic have a Spanish-language version. Nurses who work with low-income, uninsured and immigrant families should be sure to check out the link to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Insure Kids Now program.
National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
The NICHD, one of the National Institutes of Health, offers information on its site for parents, health care professionals and health educators. Many NICHD publications, research studies and patient education materials (some in Spanish) can be found in the Health Information & Media section. Culturally competent resources available here include “Back to Sleep” SIDS prevention campaign materials designed specifically for African American and Hispanic families. Most of the publications are available online in PDF and/or HTML formats; in many cases, paper copies can be ordered free of charge.
NOAH Children’s Health Page
NOAH (New York Online Access to Health), a collaborative project developed by a partnership of several libraries in the New York City area, is a bilingual English/Spanish Web resource dedicated to providing consumer health information that is timely, accurate, unbiased and easily understood by laypersons. The Children’s Health page provides access to high-quality, full-text information on a wide variety of pediatric topics, including asthma, eating disorders, children and AIDS, environmental health, accident prevention, dental care and childhood obesity.
PedsCCM: The Pediatric Critical Care Website
PedsCCM contains a collection of information resources and communication tools for health care professionals who care for critically ill and injured infants and children. All materials submitted to the Web site are peer reviewed. The site is supported in part by the Section on Critical Care of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Pediatric Section of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and the Pediatric Critical Care Colloquium.
The Pocket Guide to Good Health for Children
www.ahrq.gov/ppip/childguide (English), www.ahrq.gov/ppip/spchguide (Spanish)
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offers this online guide to help parents keep track of the immunizations, tests, checkups and other types of health care their children will need. Parents and families from different cultural backgrounds, especially those who are recent immigrants to the U.S., may have had different experiences with immunizations and other types of pediatric preventive care when they were growing up. The information in this guide can educate them and help them make well-informed decisions about what care their children should receive to maintain good health.
Your Child’s Health
This well-organized site, created and maintained by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, contains an extensive collection of patient education materials on a wide range of pediatric health topics. Many of the materials are available in both English and Spanish. Some topics relating specifically to minority health issues include immunizations, sickle cell anemia, lupus, asthma and diabetes.