Welcome to Module 6: Introduction to MedlinePlus

Helping Older Adults Search for Health Information Online

A Toolkit for Trainers from the National Institute on Aging

In this module, you will find

To teach the module, you will need

To get started, you should

Questions or comments about the Toolkit? Contact the National Institute on Aging at (301) 496-1752 or e-mail daileys@nia.nih.gov

Lesson Overview

Lesson Goals

In this lesson, students will:

  1. Learn the main features of the Home Page of MedlinePlus.
  2. Learn how to find a topic on the Health Topics page.
  3. Learn to use the MedlinePlus Search Box.
  4. Learn how to use the Medical Dictionary.
  5. Learn about the Quality Guidelines MedlinePlus uses to select the information it includes on the website.
  6. Find answers to health questions of personal interest.

Lesson Materials

In this lesson, students will need:

*This glossary only includes Internet terms relevant to this lesson.

An alphabetical list of all glossary terms introduced in the nine Toolkit lessons is available online at www.nihseniorhealth.gov/toolkit.

Lesson Length

This lesson should last:

Approximately 2 hours, with an optional stopping point at 70 minutes.

Lesson Preparation

Before the lesson, you should:

Read over the entire lesson plan. Also look at the Lesson Review with Screen Shots handout to get a quick overview of what students will learn.

Store the lesson plan in a 3-ring binder to use while teaching.

Make copies of the handouts for students. To avoid distraction, we recommend that you wait to distribute handouts until indicated in the lesson.

Check out the links that you and your students will be visiting in the lesson.

When you arrive in the classroom, you should:

Write your name and the title and level of the lesson on the board. [Searching for Health Information Online – Lesson 6: Introduction to MedlinePlus – Intermediate Students]

Make sure your computer projector and students' computers are working and that there is Internet access.

Set students' screens to the MedlinePlus home page at www.medlineplus.gov.

You should also

Read Quick Tips for a Senior Friendly Computer Classroom at www.nihseniorhealth.gov/toolkit.

Watch the short video Introducing the Toolkit at www.nihseniorheatlh.gov/toolkit.

Lesson Structure – Senior Friendly, Training Friendly

The senior-friendly lesson structure includes:

The trainer-friendly lesson plan features:

About the Scripted Transition Boxes

This lesson plan uses a combination of scripted and descriptive sections. The colored, scripted transition boxes which appear at the top of each page of the lesson plan are designed as "anchor points," marking the end of one part of the lesson and the start of another. It is important to convey the content in these transition boxes, although you may use your own wording as you become more familiar with the material. The steps that follow each scripted box are descriptive. Move through them according to your personal training style.

This approach is useful in maintaining lesson focus and keeping trainers and students on track. It also makes the lesson plan easy to use.

Important Note

In the discussions of health issues that may occur during class, refrain from offering medical advice or advocating specific treatments, physicians, hospitals, insurance plans, etc. Also, discourage this type of activity among students. Always emphasize that students should consult their health care providers about any medical information they may hear about in class or find on the Internet.

Icons Used in the Lesson Plan

Hand out Required

Trainer demonstration with computer projector

Students navigate at their computers (with assistance if needed)

Indicates when a discussion should take place

Reaching the Older Student

To help your students grasp, apply, and retain the skills and information they are taught, be sure to:

These training techniques from the lesson can also help you be successful:

Lesson Plan

OPENING COMMENTS (5 Minutes)

"Welcome to Lesson 6: Introduction to MedlinePlus. My name is _________. (This is our classroom assistant_________.) Before we start the class, I'd like to review a few general points.

Tell students the following:

  1. This Lesson...
    • Is intended for beginning students.
    • Is the sixth in a series of nine lessons developed by the National Institute on Aging to help older adults learn to find accurate online health information on their own.
  2. The MedlinePlus website they will visit...
    • Is sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, or NIH.
    • NIH is part of the U.S. Government's Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Please be aware that...
    • Online health information is in no way meant to substitute for medical advice from a doctor.
    • In class discussions, students should not attempt to provide medical advice to classmates, however well-intentioned it may be.
  4. Housekeeping Issues...
    • Class will last about __minutes with stretch break(s) lasting ___minutes.
    • Bathroom breaks can be taken anytime. Restrooms are located______.
  5. Ask students if they have any questions.

INTRODUCTIONS (3 Minutes)

"Before we get started, let's introduce ourselves."

  1. Introduce yourself, giving your name and your experience teaching computers and the Internet. If you have a classroom assistant or peer coach, introduce that person.
  2. Ask students to give their names and tell whether they are at a beginning, intermediate, or advanced level with regard to their Internet experience.
  3. If time permits, ask each student to tell something about his or her background (family, work, travels, education), why they decided to take this class, and what they hope to learn.

Purpose of Activity

Class Procedures (3 Minutes)

"Let's talk for a moment about how the class will proceed. You will be learning new ways to use technology, and in order for everyone to be successful, here are some things we need to do."

Tell students the following:

  1. To make sure everyone grasps the information and learns the skills...
    • We will proceed in a step-by-step manner and at a slow-to-moderate pace.
    • I (or my assistant) will circulate frequently during class to make sure everyone is keeping up with the lesson.
    • There will be plenty of hands-on practice activities to let you apply the skills that you learn.
    • There will be plenty of handouts to help you learn the skills while in class and to use as a reference once you leave class.
  2. As students, you should...
    • Feel free to raise your hand and ask a question if you do not understand something.
    • Feel free to ask me to repeat anything I've said.
    • Not worry about hurting the equipment because it is very sturdy.
    • Not worry about making mistakes because that is to be expected when learning a new technology.
    • Have a binder or folder to store the handouts you will receive.
  3. Ask students if they have any questions about class procedures.

Purpose of Activity

To communicate expectations, put students at ease, and facilitate learning.

Take-home Assignment (5 Minutes)

"Let's go over the homework assignment from the last lesson."

  1. Restate the take-home assignment from Module 5.
    • Submitting a personal exercise story to NIHSeniorHealth or watching animated demonstrations of strength, balance, stretching, or endurance exercises.
  2. Ask students to share the results of their take-home assignments with the class.
  3. Ask students to share any questions about navigating the NIHSeniorHealth website or finding the information they were searching for. Respond to their questions.

Note

Purpose of Activity

LESSON GOALS (2 Minutes)

"This lesson will introduce you to MedlinePlus, a website that is a source of health information for the general public. The website was developed by the National Library of Medicine, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."

Pass out Handout 6A: Lesson Goals.

  1. Go over the handout with students.

Purpose of Activity

INTERNET TERMS (5 Minutes)

"Before we actually get into the heart of the lesson, let's review a few basic Internet terms."

Pass out Handout 6B: Glossary

  1. Knowing the meaning of these Internet terms will help students understand the lesson. All of these terms have been introduced in previous lessons, but going over them again may help students recall their meaning.
  2. You may want to demonstrate the terms for students from your computer projector.

INTERNET TERMS

  1. back arrow
  2. link (or hyperlink)
  3. menu
  4. scroll
  5. scroll bar
  6. search box
  7. window

Tips for Glossary Review

THINKING OF HEALTH TOPICS (2 Minutes)

"Before we look at the website, Id like to have you jot down some information."

  1. Ask students to write down two diseases or conditions that they would like to know more about. Students can list these at the bottom of the Lesson Goals handout.
  2. Ask students to think of another health topic that they have heard of, but arent quite sure what the FULL DEFINITION is. Ask them to write that down and put the word "definition" beside it.
  3. Tell students to set that information aside. Youll come back to it later in the lesson.

Purpose of Activity

The Home Page (3 Minutes)

"We are going to start with Goal 1 – learning the features of the MedlinePlus Home Page.

Take a look at your computer screens. You should see the Home Page of the MedlinePlus website. This website contains links to over 800 health topics."

Point out these features on the Home Page:

The Health Topics Page (10 Minutes)

"Now we'll move to Goal 2 – learning how to find health topics.

If you want to find out about a disease or condition, start with the Health Topics button."

  1. Click on Health Topics and tell students there are two ways to find a topic:
    • Using the alphabet.
    • Using categories.
  2. Demonstrate ONE way to find information about Arthritis.
    • Click on A under the alphabet. Scroll down to Arthritis and click on it.
      OR
    • Click on Bones, Joints, and Muscles. An image of a skeleton will appear on the left and list of the body parts on the right. Click on the word Joints either on the image OR on the list. Then click on Arthritis.)

Purpose of Activity

TIME CHECK 40 minutes elapsed; about 1 hour, 20 minutes left.

The Arthritis Page (10 Minutes)

"Let's look at the features on this page. This page is an example of the kinds of information you will find when you click on any disease or condition."

  1. Demonstrate as students navigate with you. Starting from the Home Page, have students navigate to the Arthritis page using the ONE path you showed them (alphabet or category).
  2. Familiarize students with the features of the Arthritis page:
    • Top of Page
      • Alphabet
      • Buttons linking to the Home Page
      • Disease Summary
    • Middle of Page
      • Start Here
      • Content Titles (i.e., Basics, Learn More, etc....)
    • Bottom of Page
      • Content Links

The Arthritis Page (continued) (10 Minutes)

"You'll notice that there are links to lots of information about arthritis on this page."

  1. Demonstrate as students navigate with you. Scroll down to Overviews and click on any link in that category. Point out the name of the website that opens, explaining that it has opened in a window. Let students read some of the information there silently.
  2. Show students how to close a window to return to the Arthritis page.
  3. (Optional) Show students how to minimize and restore the window using the two buttons just next to the X in the upper right-hand corner of the inside window.
  4. Ask students to return to the Home Page by clicking on Home at the top of their screen.

How to Close, Minimize, and Restore a Window (optional)

Teaching Tip

Summarizing (2 Minutes)

"Now, let's take a look at the Goals again to see what we've covered so far.

  1. Demonstrate and summarize the following learning objectives from Goals 1 and 2:
    • Identifying the main features of the Home Page
    • Learning one way to access health topics on the Health Topics page
    • Linking to more information about a health topic
  2. Ask students if they have any questions.
    Refer students to Handout 6A: Lesson Goals
  3. Tell students to check off Goals 1 and 2 on their handout.

Purpose of Activity

Group Practice Activity (10 Minutes)

"Let's practice finding information on a health topic together."

Pass out Handout 6C: Find Information on a Health Topic

  1. Read each of the steps on Handout 6C to the class to familiarize them with the activity. Then lead the group through the exercise step by step using the computer projector.
  2. After students complete step #10 of the exercise, ask them to share the information they found about hip replacement with the class.
  3. When everyone is finished, ask students if they have any questions about the exercise.

Purpose of Priming Activity

Teaching Tips

OPTIONAL STOPPING POINT

1 hour, 10 minutes elapsed; 50 minutes left.

(If you choose to stop here, you can assign the next activity as homework. Be sure to go over steps in the activity with students. You may teach the remaining material in the next class.)

Independent Practice Activity (10 Minutes)

"Now you'll have an opportunity to practice finding information on your own using one of the health topics you wrote down at the beginning of the class."

Pass out Handout 6D: Search for Your Own Health Topic

  1. Read each of the steps on Handout 6D to the class to familiarize them with the activity.
  2. Ask students to choose one of the health issues they wrote down earlier in the class.
  3. Start students off by doing the first couple of steps of the exercise on Handout 6D together as a class. Then let them search on their own for information about their selected topic.
  4. Once students have completed the exercise, ask them which searching tasks were easy and which ones may have caused them difficulty.
  5. Clear up any questions students may have.

Purpose of Priming Activity

The Search MedlinePlus Box (8 Minutes)

"Now we will work on Goal 3 – using the Search MedlinePlus Box.

There are other ways to search for a health topic. One way is by using the Search Box."

  1. Point out the Search MedlinePlus Box again.
  2. Demonstrate for students how to use the Search MedlinePlus Box. Type in the name of a disease or condition (i.e., gout) on your computer projector. Click on Go (or hit the Enter key). Point out that the information on this page is arranged differently from the Health Topics page.
  3. Ask students to type in the name of the disease or condition they researched in their independent practice activity into the Search MedlinePlus Box, and click on Go (or hit Enter).
  4. Let them scroll the page to see how information is arranged. Point out the summary and the list of results underneath it. Show students how they can search beyond the first list of results by scrolling to the bottom of the list and clicking on the numbers for the next pages.
  5. Let them click on a link and scan the information they find there.

Purpose of Activity

The Medical Dictionary (5 Minutes)

"Now, on to Goal 4 – using the Medical Dictionary. This dictionary on the MedlinePlus website defines medical terms."

  1. Ask students to return to the Home Page.
  2. Ask students to click on the Medical Dictionary search box on the left side of the Home Page.
  3. Demonstrate for students how to use the Dictionary by typing in a disease or condition (i.e., lupus) in the empty field and then clicking Search or typing Enter on the keyboard.
  4. Ask them to do the same thing with the word they wrote down earlier for which they wanted a definition. Have a few students read their definitions aloud.
  5. Ask students to close the window and return to the Home Page.

Summarizing (2 Minutes)

"Now let's take a look at the Goals to see what we've covered so far."

  1. Demonstrate and summarize the learning objectives from Goals 3 and 4:
    • Using the Search MedlinePlus Box
    • Using the Medical Dictionary
  2. Ask students if they have any questions.
    Refer to Handout 6A: Lesson Goals.
  3. Ask students to check off Goals 3 and 4 on their handout.

Purpose of Activity

Time Check: 1 hour, 40 minutes elapsed; about 24 minutes left.

MedlinePlus Quality Guidelines (7 Minutes)

"Now, for Goal 5 – learning about the MedlinePlus quality guidelines.

You have seen that MedlinePlus has links to a number of websites. There are strict guidelines regarding the links that can appear on the site.

Let's take a moment to find out how material is selected for inclusion on MedlinePlus."

  1. Demonstrate as students navigate with you. Ask students to click on the About MedlinePlus button near the top of the Home Page.
  2. Ask them to go to the menu on the right and click on Quality Guidelines. Ask students to scan the page silently for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Have a brief discussion, asking students to share one point they found particularly interesting about the Quality Guidelines.

Purpose of Activity

Summarizing (7 Minutes)

"Let's do a final exercise to bring together the skills we've learned today."

  1. Choose a health topic (i.e., hypertension) and have students lead you through an information search about the disease.
  2. Starting at the Home Page, ask students the following questions. As they provide each answer, demonstrate for them by clicking on the appropriate link at your computer projector.
    1. "Where do I click to find the definition of hypertension?"
      (Answer: Click on Medical Dictionary and show how to find the definition.)
    2. "Where do I click to find general information about hypertension?"
      (Answer: Click on Health Topics.)
    3. "Which link do I click on in the Health Topics page to find out about hypertension?"
      (Answer: Click the letter "H" and scroll down to hypertension. OR, click on the category "Blood, Heart and Circulation," and scroll down to hypertension.)
    4. "How do I return to the Home Page?"
      (Answer: Click on Home)
  3. Address any final questions students may have.

Purpose of Activity

Wrapping Up (5 Minutes)

"Today you've learned some basics of navigating the MedlinePlus website. You've learned

  1. About the main features of the MedlinePlus Home Page
  2. How to find health topics on the Health Topics page.
  3. How to use the Search MedlinePlus Box
  4. How to find definitions of medical terms using the Medical Dictionary
  5. The criteria MedlinePlus uses to select information to include on the website.

You've also succeeded in doing online research on health topics of interest to you.

Here is a handout to help you recall what you learned."

Pass out Handout 6E: Lesson Review with Screen Shots.

  1. Read the cover description, How to Use This Handout, to students.
  2. Go over each screen shot, reading the captions to remind students of the navigation steps they learned on each page. (You do not need to refer back to the computer screen at this point.)
  3. Encourage students to use this handout as a reference when practicing the skills they learned in this lesson.

Purpose of Activity

Wrapping Up (continued) (5 Minutes)

"The MedlinePlus website has drug information, ways to find doctors, and many more features which we will explore in a future lesson.

Remember, always check with your doctor or health care provider about health information you find on the Internet.

Here is your take-home assignment, which will give you more practice with the skills you've learned today."

  1. Ask students to do some research on the causes of back pain and to bring that information to the next class.
  2. Ask students how they would get to MedlinePlus. Answer: Go to www.medlineplus.gov
  3. Remind them that the address of the website can be found at the bottom of their handouts.

Teaching Tip

END OF LESSON 6

Introduction to MedlinePlus: Handouts

Searching for Health Information Online: An Internet Course for Older Adults

HANDOUT 6A: Lesson Goals

During this lesson, you will:

  1. Learn about the main features of the Home Page of the MedlinePlus website.
  2. Learn how to find a health topic on the Health Topics page.
  3. Learn how to use the Search MedlinePlus Box.
  4. Learn how to use the Medical Dictionary.
  5. Learn about the Quality Guidelines MedlinePlus uses to select the information it includes on the site.
  6. Find answers to health questions of personal interest.

HANDOUT 6B: Glossary

1. Back Arrow

This arrow, often green, is found at the top of most browsers. When you click on the back arrow, it takes you back – in order – through all of the web pages you've seen. (Sometimes called the back button.)

[IMAGE: Screen shot of Back button on browser]

2. Link (or hyperlink)

A highlighted or underlined feature on a web page that, when clicked, will take you to another web page. A link most often appears as underlined words or an image.

One sure way to tell if something is a link or not: Whenever your cursor turns into a pointing hand, the image or word you are pointing to is a link.

[IMAGE: Screen shots of "Site Index", "Click for Answer", and "Health Topics" buttons]

3. Menu

A list of options, or topics, on a website that users can choose from.

[IMAGE: Screen shot with left navigation menu circled]

4. Scroll

To move text or other information on a computer screen up, down, or sideways, with new information appearing as the old disappears.

5. Scroll Bar

A narrow, rectangular bar on the right edge and bottom edge of a web page that lets you move the page to see more of the information it contains. The scroll bar on the right moves the web page up and down, and the scroll bar on the bottom moves the web page right and left.

[IMAGE: Screen shot of the browser's vertical and horizontal scroll bars]

6. Search Box

A small rectangular blank space on a web page where you can type in a word or phrase to look for information. Clicking on the button next to the search box (or hitting the Enter key on the keyboard) will take you to a page where that information is located.

[IMAGE: Screen shot of the search box]

7. Window

A framed area of a computer screen that appears in front of the web page. Sometimes the appearance of a window means that you have entered another website. At other times, it means you may still be on the same website.

[IMAGE: Screen shot of two browser windows open at once.

HANDOUT 6C: Find Information on a Health Topic

  1. On the Home Page, click on Health Topics.
  2. Looking at the alphabet, click on the letter "H."
  3. Scroll down the list until you get to Hip Replacement.
  4. Click on Hip Replacement.
  5. You should now be on the Hip Replacement page.
  6. Scroll down to Overviews.
  7. Under Overviews, click on any link. A window will open to another website.
  8. What is the name of this website?
    ___________________________________
  9. Browse the information on this site for 3-4 minutes.
  10. Write down something new you find about hip replacement.
    ___________________________________
  11. Exit this website. (Hint: Click on the X in the upper right-hand corner of this window.)
  12. You should be back on the Hip Replacement page.
  13. Scroll to the top of the screen. Find the Home link at the top of the screen on the left and click on it to return to the Home Page.

HANDOUT 6D: Search for Your Own Health Topic

  1. Recall one of the health topics you wrote down at the start of the class.
  2. From the Home Page, click on Health Topics.
  3. Using the alphabet, find the first letter of your topic and click on it. (Or, if you wish, use the "Categories" section just below the alphabet, and click on the category for your topic.)
  4. Scroll down until you find your topic, and click on it (or, if you see a picture of the human body, click on the part of the picture that represents your topic.)
  5. You should now be on the page for your health topic.
  6. Scroll down to Overviews.
  7. Under Overviews, click on any link. A window will open to another website.
  8. What is the name of this website?
    ___________________________________
  9. Browse the information you find there for about 3-4 minutes.
  10. Write down one new thing you learned about your health topic.
    ___________________________________
  11. Exit this website and return to MedlinePlus by clicking on the X in the upper right-hand corner of the inside window.
  12. Scroll to the top of the screen. Find the Home link at the top of the screen on the left and click on it to return to the Home Page.

Lesson Review with Screen Shots: Handout 6E

How to Use this Handout

LESSON REVIEW

  1. You went to the MedlinePlus website at www.medlineplus.gov. You learned about some of the features on the MedlinePlus Home Page, including the (1) 3 broad categories; (2) Search MedlinePlus Box; (3) Health News; (4) About Your Health
    [IMAGE: Screen shot of the MedlinePlus Home page with the 3 broad categories, Search MedlinePlus Box, About Your Health, and Health News circled]
  2. You learned that clicking on Health Topics on the Home Page would take you to this page, where you could select health topics to search. You can search topics by clicking on the first letter of the disease. Or, you can search by clicking on the category of your chosen health topic.
    [IMAGE: Screen shot of the MedlinePlus Health Topics page with links for the alphabetical list and the categories circled]
  3. Clicking on an alphabet letter takes you to a page with a list of diseases and conditions starting with that letter. Scroll down to find your health topic.
    [IMAGE: Screen Shot of the MedlinePlus "A" alphabet page with two arrows; one pointing to the title "Health Topics beginning with "A" and another to "Scroll Down"]
  4. Clicking on a category may take you to an illustration, where you can click on the body part to find your health topic. Or, you can click on the name of the body part in the list to find your topic.
    [IMAGE: Screen shot of MedlinePlus "Anatomy Page" for "Bones, Joints, and Muscles" with an arrow pointing to the body map and another arrow pointing to the list of related categories that are hyperlinked.]
  5. On the page for a specific health topic, (i.e., Arthritis) you learned you could click on more links to find in-depth information. Some of these links took you to other websites.
    [IMAGE: Screen shot of the MedlinePlus Arthritis page with the "Basics" category circled]
  6. You learned that clicking on a link to another website opened a window to that site. Clicking the X in the upper right-hand corner of the inside window closes that window.
    [IMAGE: Screen shot of two Website Windows open with the X in the upper right-hand corner of the inside window circled]
  7. You learned how to type a term into the Search MedlinePlus Box and then click on Go to find information. The Search MedlinePlus Box is located at the top of each page of the MedlinePlus website.
    [IMAGE: Screen shot of the MedlinePlus home page with the Search Box and the Search MedlinePlus button circled]
  8. You learned that typing a term into the Medical Dictionary would take you to a page where you could type in a medical term (i.e., lupus) and then click on Search to find its definition.
    [IMAGE: Screen shot of the MedlinePlus Medical Dictionary field with the term "lupus" typed in and the Go button circled]
  9. Finally, you learned to click on About MedlinePlus to see how material is selected for the website using the Quality Guidelines.
    [IMAGE: Screen shot of the MedlinePlus Quality Guidelines with the links to "About MedlinePlus" and "MedlinePlus Policies" circled.]

Your Questions?

Last reviewed: September 2010