Healthfinder.gov: Government websites you should know

healthfinder.gov screen shotHave you ever looked for health-related information on the web? Most people do, either for their own health or for someone they love.

Government information often does not appear on the first page of search results.

Therefore, few people think of it or know where to look for it. Healthfinder.gov is an award-winning site for the general public dedicated to prevention and wellness.

It’s not satisfied to put out accurate, but jargon-laden articles that confuse more than inform. Its awards include the ClearMark award for best plain language content for the public.

You can find information on more than a hundred prevention and wellness topics. The site also includes interactive tools and quizzes, among other things.

The articles at healthfinder.gov link to additional resources from about 1,400 government and non-profit organizations. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, its parent agency, has selected them to meet its quality guidelines.

Navigating healthfinder.gov

The home page has links for

  • health conditions and diseases
  • nutrition and physical activity
  • pregnancy
  • doctor visits
  • everyday healthy living
  • parenting

Apparently most visitors want information about those general topics. Underneath, you can look for any health topic by first letter or select “browse all health topics.”

Clicking the latter option brings up a screen with the alphabet and links for the same six basic categories. It also has options for selecting information for women, men, older adults, babies and toddlers, children, and pre-teens and teens.

I appreciate the layout of the alphabetical search. The results include not only links to specific articles, but also cross references. Someone might look up “Addiction” for example. The articles are listed under “Substance abuse.”

Some articles may be listed under more than one category. “Sexual Health” has links to eight articles, and “Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) to six more. Some of the same articles (and additional ones) appear under the names of specific STDs.

Have you ever had to spend time guessing where to find information in the phone book or some poorly designed library database? You’ll appreciate the thought that went into cross referencing.  It’s not perfect, though. “Cancer” has only a single link. Other articles appear under headings for specific cancers.

Other features

Some articles have quizzes. They show a single multiple choice question on each screen. You select your answer, and the next screen will tell you if you answered correctly. It also gives additional information about the answer. Sometimes it also tells the percentage of people who gave each answer. The quizzes don’t take long.

The tool My Health Finder asks only your age and sex. The result has several general headings. For me, it started with doctors’ recommendations for all men my age, with links to articles on each point.

Next it pointed me to information only some men my age might need. This list is based on family history and other risk factors. The descriptions tell you which risk factors indicate you’d benefit from reading.

Near the bottom of my results is a general statement about them, a link to finding services near where I live, and some other topics their algorithm suggested I might find interesting.

The sidebar also has several other choices. “National Health Observances” leads you to a calendar for all the special days, weeks, or months devoted to particular health topics. For example,

  • April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and more than a dozen others.
  • April 2-8 is National Youth Violence Prevention Week
  • April 6 is National Alcohol Screening Day
  • April 7 is World Health Day

The site provides links for more information on each one. It also links to tool kits to enable you to share messages, promote interactive resources, or organize community events.

“Free Health Content” tells what to do if you want to share any of these resources on your own website. Here’s something I’m glad to share.


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