Health Information Made Plain

Providing medical information is always a challenge. Adding to the difficulty is the mismatch between medical terminology and the average reading skills of many Americans.

According to a study conducted last year by the U. S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy, 32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. And 21 percent of adults in the U.S. read below a 5th grade level.

The National Library of Medicine has been working hard to provide medical information that uses plain language to describe medical issues. Plain language substitutes everyday words for medical jargon, uses short sentences, and highlights key points.

medlineplusTo access the easy-to-read medical literature that the National Library of Medicine has developed, visit MedlinePlus (available on the Find Articles and CLP database pages) and click on the “easy-to-read” tab in the bottom right-hand corner. (“Easy-to-read” articles will also appear whenever you are reading about a topic that has also been written about in plain language.)

MedlinePlus is a great resource. It contains drug information, interactive tutorials, and late-breaking stories about medical issues. The spelling, definition, and pronunciation of medical terms are always a click away.

It has links to health information in 44 languages. It has medical information in plain language. And it’s free.

Mary Lee (Northland)

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