Health Information & Community Outreach

Kloda, Lorie A. Health Information & Community Outreach., 2005 . In WILU 2005: 34th Annual Workshop on Instruction in Library Use, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, May 18-20, 2005. (Unpublished) [Conference paper]


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English abstract

While it is widely agreed that information literacy skills should be fostered in institutions of higher education, little is known about attempts to teach about information literacy outside of academia. Health information literacy, as defined by the Medical Library Association ( is “the set of abilities needed to: recognize a health information need; identify likely information sources and use them to retrieve relevant information; assess the quality of the information and its applicability to a specific situation; and analyze, understand, and the use information to make good health decisions.” Within the context of health information literacy, this presentation will focus on three different cases of community outreach: 1. Collaboration with researchers to train volunteers to deliver health information to oncology patients; 2. Collaboration with researchers to design an electronic repository of evidence-based stroke interventions and accompanying health information for the public; and 3. Collaboration with the University’s Mini-Med School to reach members of the community and to provide health information literacy support. Through partnerships with researchers and staff from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine (including the Schools of Nursing and Physical & Occupational Therapy), this librarian was able to reach three distinct groups in the community: patients diagnosed with cancer, stroke survivors and their families, and members of the general public interested in medicine and health. Strategies for outreach include: train-the-trainer workshops, assistance with critical appraisal of online health information, and selection and management of reliable and readable electronic health information resources. Issues important for consideration include administrative issues in partnering with faculty and staff, project management, literacy levels of community groups, and readability of health information. During this presentation, I will provide an introduction to the topic of health information literacy and its potential for community outreach. I will also describe the three separate projects, providing details of their planning, execution, reflections, and future directions. Academic librarians play an important role in the transmission of information literacy theory and skills to students and faculty within the institution. Transferring this experience for the benefit of the wider community seems a logical progression and a worthwhile effort. By collaborating with faculty and staff to deliver health information literacy initiatives to the greater community, librarians have the opportunity to not only reach a broader group of users, but to foster partnerships with researchers in their own institution. The promotion of health information literacy through existing research and outreach programs is a potential source of increased visibility within and without the university.

Item type: Conference paper
Keywords: outreach, health information literacy, workshops, academic librarianship, health sciences librarianship, consumer health information, Mini-Medical School, knowledge translation, cancer information
Subjects: B. Information use and sociology of information > BA. Use and impact of information.
B. Information use and sociology of information > BC. Information in society.
B. Information use and sociology of information > BG. Information dissemination and diffusion.
Depositing user: Lorie A. Kloda
Date deposited: 20 Jun 2006
Last modified: 02 Oct 2014 12:03


Consumer Health & Health Information Literacy

Benedetti, J.-A. M. (2002). Strategies for consumer health reference training. Health Care on the Internet, 6, 63-71.

Burnham, E. (2003). Libraries as partners in health literacy. Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet, 7, 7-15.

Crespo, J. (2004). Training the health information seeker: Quality issues in health information web sites. Library trends, 53, 360-374.

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Grimwood-Jones, D. (2005, January 22). Getting health information into communities. CILIP Update 3(12). Available from: <>

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Snyder, M., Huber, J. T., & Wegmann, D. (2002). Education for consumer health: A train the trainer collaboration. Health Care on the Internet, 6, 49-62.

Library Outreach

Basler, T. G. (2005). Community outreach partnerships. Reference Services Review, 33, 31-37.

Burroughs, C. (2000). Measuring the Difference: Guide to Planning and Evaluating Health Information Outreach. Seattle: National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM).

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Wessel, C. B., Wozar, J. A., & Epstein, B. A. (2003). The role of the academic medical center library in training public librarians. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 91, 352-360.

Examples of Outreach used in this Presentation

Edgar, L., Greenberg, A., & Remmer, J. (2002). Providing Internet lessons to oncology patients and family members: A shared project. Psycho-Oncology, 11, 439-446.

Loiselle, C. & Dubois, S. (2003). Getting wired for Interactive Health Communication. Canadian Nurse, 99, 22-26.

Loiselle, C.G. & Edgar, L. (2004). Connecting patients to cancer information. Available from: <>

McGill Faculty of Medicine. (2005). McGill Mini-Med School.

Available from: <>

Rose, P. M. (2003). miniMedical school: Library support for sophisticated consumers. Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet, 7, 25-30.

Van Moorsel, G. (2001). Do you mini-med school? Leveraging library resources to improve internet consumer health information literacy. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 20, 27-37.


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