Introduction

This quick reference guide is designed to assist instructors who teach general workshops for older adults on how to use the Internet, as well as those who teach specific workshops on how to find health information on the Web.

This guide does not include a specific "script" for the instructor. The information on the Health Compass site provides all the content needed for workshops on how to find and assess reliable Web-based health information. The Health Compass site is structured in such a way that the instructor can present a "how to" workshop simply by guiding users through the site while highlighting key points along the way.

The following information provides instructors with an overview of the Health Compass site, so that you can familiarize yourself with its navigational structure and content.

Main Points of Health Compass

The Health Compass content was developed to help older adults better understand health information and research on aging by communicating the following main points:

  • Sources of reliable health information and how to find them
  • The basic components of a reliable medical research study
  • What to look for in reports of medical research findings
  • How to recognize false or misleading product claims
  • How to communicate better with your physician and other healthcare providers

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Structure of Health Compass

To address the main points listed above, Health Compass is divided into 3 main sections:

  • Find: addresses how to find health and aging information on the Internet and in other sources.
  • Evaluate: provides an introduction on how medical research is conducted and reported on in the media, so that users can become familiar with common terminology and learn how to read health and medical research information with a more critical eye.
  • Act: presents information on making informed decisions about personal health and lifestyle, as well as suggestions on how to talk to health care providers and prepare for a doctor's office visit.

Each of the above sections is also divided into 3 parts, the contents of which are listed at the beginning of each section. Each subsection can be accessed with a single click.

Other features of the Health Compass site that can be used in workshop settings include:

  • A glossary that provides definitions of terms marked with an "i" throughout the site
  • Links to other Web sites for related or additional information, which also act as examples to illustrate the information in Health Compass
  • Health Compass tips that provide useful guides or help on points just discussed
  • Key points at the end of each section that provide a brief review or summary of the information
  • An annotated list of other resources, both electronic and print, that expand on the information in Health Compass

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The Workshop

Now that you're familiar with the main features, objectives, and content of Health Compass, you will want to spend some time exploring the site and reviewing the user tutorial and reference sheet, to help you plan how you would conduct a workshop using Health Compass.

The key points at the end of each of the 3 main Health Compass sections provide a good starting point for organizing your presentation.

Here are a few other key points that you may want to emphasize in your presentation:

  • With over 50,000 Web sites you need to be sure you are searching "reliable" Web sites. No one is in charge of the Internet. Anyone can write a Web site and include any type of information on it, accurate or not.
  • Make sure the information you are getting from the Internet is written by a health professional -- a physician, dentist, nurse, dietitian, etc. Always look for the writer's qualifications.
  • Check to see how current the information is. Reliable web sites generally indicate a date that the information was last reviewed and updated. Information older than 3 years is considered outdated.
  • Take the time to look for these symbols (click on the symbol below to review the Web site):

    The HON code, Hardin MD Clean Bill of Health, and URAC seals are given to sites that have been found to meet a specific set of standards for health information on the Internet.

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Health Compass Evaluation

We would appreciate your asking attendees to send us their feedback on Health Compass by using the user feedback form, which can be accessed by clicking on the Feedback button on the Home page.

We have also provided a sample workshop evaluation form for your use.

We also welcome your comments on this information for educators. Please send your suggestions to info@afar.org

Thank you!