Consumer Health Resources for Patients & the Public

Are you looking for quality consumer health information on the World Wide Web?

The Web can be an excellent resource for consumer health information, but finding correct, up-to-date facts online isn't always easy. Along with many excellent Web sites, there are many poor ones. To help you navigate the wealth of information out there effectively and safely, the MCW Libraries have pulled together some tips and tricks to help you evaluate information, and we've also created curated lists of reliable, trusted web pages you can turn to.

 How to Evaluate Health Information on the Web

As you explore the Web, you'll probably come across resources that we haven't included on this page.  This doesn't automatically mean that the information is not useful, but you should always critique anything you see online. The tips below will help guide you as you evaluate other online resources that you find. Remember, even the highest quality Web sites cannot replace regular medical care.

Choose reliable, accurate, up-to-date sites:

  • Look for sites that inform and are sponsored by an educational, health, or governmental organization. (These sites will have .edu, .org, or .gov at the end of the Web address.)
  • Look for Web sites written or reviewed by doctors or other medical professionals. Check to see if their qualifications are listed.
  • Look for sites with current information. There should be a date listed when the site was created or last updated.
  • Look for sites written in clear, understandable language. Use sites that are targeted to health consumers.
  • Look for stable sites with working hyperlinks.
  • Look for sites that respect your privacy. Use sites that do not collect, use, or share personal data without clearly asking for your consent.

Avoid unreliable, inaccurate, outdated sites:

  • Avoid sites that try to sell you something or that are political in nature. Consider possible conflicts of interest. (Commercial sites end in .com, and many political sites end in .org.)
  • Avoid sites not written by doctors or other medical professionals. If the site claims to be written or reviewed by people in the medical field, look for proof.
  • Avoid sites that contain outdated information. Also, do not use a site if there is no date included.
  • Avoid sites containing technical language, which can be confusing. Avoid sites not targeted to health consumers.
  • Avoid sites that are not stable or which have broken hyperlinks.
  • Avoid sites that require registration. If you do sign up, make sure the site states that your personal information will not be shared without your clear consent.

Learn more about evaluating consumer health information on the Web at these two sites:

 Quality Health Information Web Sites

Below is a list of excellent general consumer health Web sites. Look at them to learn more about many health-related topics. They contain facts about many topics including nutrition, exercise, and how to stay healthy.

While these Web sites are of high quality, they cannot replace regular medical care. Use the health information that you find to better communicate with your doctor or health care provider and to take better care of yourself and your family.


We also provide a separate page with in-depth highlights of the types of information you can find on each of these websites!


  • BadgerLink
    • (from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction)
    • BadgerLink is different from the other Web sites on this list. It is a site that allows you to search for articles on many topics using databases. Start by clicking on the link labeled, "Health and Medical" next to the "Resources by type" heading. This will bring you to a list of health databases. Choose the databases you want to search. Then type in a word or two in the search box to see if there are articles on your topic. This Web site will only provide full text articles to computer users in Wisconsin.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    • (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
    • This Web site contains information and tips on current health issues. Also included are facts about prevention and topics related to environmental themes. The CDC's Web site includes an A-Z listing of disease and health topics. It also provides access to data and statistics collected by the CDC. Some information is provided in Spanish. (CDC version in Spanish)
  • familydoctor.org
    • (from the American Academy of Family Physicians)
    • This Web site contains health information for the whole family. Look up health issues related to men, women, parents and kids, and seniors.  You can also access information using the A-Z list of health conditions. To learn more about how to stay healthy, look at the many topics listed under the "Healthy Living" section of the site. Find out about over-the-counter drugs and a lot more on this quality site.
  • Genetics Home Reference
    • (from the National Library of Medicine)
    • This Web site provides information about many health conditions affected by genetics. There are definitions of terms related to genes. There is also a section on genetic conditions and a resources page with links to other sites with information.
  • healthfinder®
    • (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
    • This site includes links to reliable health information. Use the A to Z list to find facts about diseases, health conditions, and injuries. You can also learn more about drugs or read a weekly newsletter. Other features include a link to federal and state agencies and to clearinghouses which provide facts on many health topics. There is also a healthfinder version in Spanish.
  • Lab Tests Online
    • (from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry
    • This site is designed to give consumers information about specific clinical lab tests. You can also learn about treatment for many diseases and conditions. In addition, this site features current health topics that are in the news.
  • MedlinePlus®
    • (from the National Library of Medicine)
    • This Web site includes information that you can trust on over 700 health topics. It is also easy to use. Some of the features are a medical encyclopedia with pictures and a dictionary for medical terms. In addition, the site contains links to many other good Web sites for health and drug information. View a tutorial on some of the many features in MedlinePlus.
  • Milwaukee Health Department
    • (from the City of Milwaukee)
    • This Web site is especially helpful to people living in the Milwaukee area. Important local health issues are covered. The site also has many health topics of general interest. Seasonal health tips are also included.
  • NIH Senior Health
    • (from the U.S. National Institutes of Health
    • This Web site is for older adults. Included is health information that is age-related and easy to understand. Seniors and their family members and friends can learn about such topics as Alzheimer's Disease, heart failure, and taking medicines. Many other health conditions and topics are also included. To help people with low vision, the Web site's text size can be adjusted.  In addition, a speech feature is included.
  • The Drug Information Portal
    • (from the National Library of Medicine)
    • This site is an easy-to-use portal to current drug information for over 15,000 drugs. Users can type in the brand/trade name (e.g., Zocor) or generic name (e.g., Simvastatin). Use this portal to learn about the side effects of drugs, clinical trials, the effects of the medication on breastfeeding, and much more.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • This Web site provides information on a number of topics. There is a section about diseases and conditions and drug and food information.  Learn about staying healthy and what to do if there's a disaster. This site also contains help if you are looking for a hospital or nursing home and much more.
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Consumer Health Information
    • This Web site includes information on many health topics. Keep up-to-date on recent news stories about food and drugs in the Consumer Updates section. Find out about medical procedures, animal health, medicines, and much more on this consumer-friendly Web site. There is also some information provided in Spanish.
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services
    • This Web site's purpose is to help Wisconsin residents make good health care choices. The site contains easy-to-find, useful information on many topics. The site features current health topics of importance, especially for people living in Wisconsin.
 Selected Health Web Sites in Spanish

Here's a list of excellent general consumer health Web sites in Spanish. Look at them to learn more about many health-related topics. They contain facts about many topics including nutrition, exercise, and how to stay healthy.

While these Web sites are of high quality, they cannot replace regular medical care. Use the health information that you find to better communicate with your doctor or health care provider and to take better care of yourself and your family.

Páginas de Salud en Español

Aquí está una lista de los sitios generales excelentes del Web de la salud del consumidor en español. Mírelos para aprender más sobre muchos asuntos relativos a la salud. Contienen hechos sobre muchos asuntos incluyendo la nutrición, ejercicio, y cómo permanecer sanos.

Mientras que estos sitos están de alta calidad, no pueden substituir asistencia médica regular. Utilice a la información de la salud que usted encuentra para comunicarse mejor con su medicó o abastecedor del cuidado médico y para tomar a un cuidado mejor de usted y a su familia.

Health Web Sites in Spanish / Páginas de Salud en Español

  • MedlinePlus en español
    • MedlinePlus, a free resource from the National Library of Medicine, includes a version in Spanish with information about medications, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive tutorials for patients, recent news articles about health, and much more. MedlinePlus is also available in English.
    • MedlinePlus en español le ofrece mucha información sobre medicamentos, una enciclopedia médica ilustrada, programas interactivos para el paciente, las más recientes noticias acerca de la salud y muchas mas.
  • Familydoctor.org en español
    • Familydoctor.org  is sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Many of the health topics included are discussed in both English and Spanish. All of the information on the site has been written and reviewed by AAFP medical professionals and is dedicated to patient education. Familydoctor.org is also available in English.
    • Esta página en la Internet es operada por la Academia Estadounidense de Médicos de Familia (AAFP en inglés). Toda la información que se encuentra en este sitio ha sido escrita y revisada en la AAFP por médicos y profesionales que están dedicados a la educación del paciente.
  • Cancer.gov en español
    • This Web site is a service of the National Cancer Institute. Cancer.gov in Spanish includes information about the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. This site also includes information on financial resources to cover the cost of tests and treatments. Cancer.gov is also available in English.
    • Este sitio web en español es un servicio del Instituto Nacional del Cáncer (National Cancer Institute en inglés). Cancer.gov en español incluye información sobre recursos disponibles para prevención, detección y tratamiento de cáncer, en inglés y español. Esto incluye información sobre recursos económicos para cubrir el costo de pruebas de detección y tratamientos.
  • healthfinder.gov en español
    • The Web site, healthfinder, provides free, reliable health information and is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This site includes an alphabetized list of health topics that makes searching for health information easy. There is also a healthfinder version in English.
    • Este sitio web en español es una guía gratuita a la información confiable de la salud, desarrollada por el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de los Estados Unidos (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services en inglés). Este sitio proporciona un índice de uso fácil para búsquedas sobre información de la salud.
  •  CDC (Centers for Disease Control) en español
    • The CDC is one of the major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services. CDC′s Mission is "to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability." This site includes information about healthy living, emergency preparedness and response, diseases and conditions, and more. The CDC Web site is also available in English.
    • Los CDC (Los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades) son uno de los componentes operativos más importantes del Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services en inglés). La misión de los CDC es "promover la salud y la calidad de vida mediante la prevención y el control de enfermedades, lesiones y discapacidades." Esto incluye información sobre vida saludable, preparación y respuesta para casos de emergencias, enfermedades y afecciones y mas.
 Finding Information on Hospitals & Physicians
  •  CheckPoint - Wisconsin Hospitals Accountable for Quality
    • (from the Wisconsin Hospital Association)
    • This Web site provides information about 128 hospitals in Wisconsin. Get tips for choosing a hospital or health plan.
  •  WHA Information Center PricePoint System
    • (from the Wisconsin Hospital Association)
    • This section of the CheckPoint Web site allows consumers to compare hospitals throughout Wisconsin. Learn about inpatient and outpatient services. This site allows you to find typical charges for many procedures.
  • Hospital Compare
    • (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
    • Use this site to learn about hospitals in your area. This site focuses on adult care for certain medical conditions.
  • Patient Care Services & Find a Doctor Directories
    • (from the Medical College of Wisconsin)
    • This page includes Patient Care Services & Find a Doctor Directories for Medical College of Wisconsin physicians. Also included is information about primary care clinics and Regional Clinical Alliances and Affiliates.
  •  Children's Hospital of Wisconsin "Find a Doctor"
  • Finding and Choosing a Doctor
    • (from the Wisconsin Dept. of Health & Family Services)
    • This Web page provides some useful information about what to consider when choosing a physician. Use the site's many useful links to learn if your doctor participates in Medicare, about a doctor's certifications and licensure, and much more.
  •  AMA Physician Select Online Doctor Finder
    • (from the American Medical Association)
    • DoctorFinder contains information on over 690,000 doctors. Facts are included for practically all licensed physicians in the United States. Search by name or specialty. For doctors who belong to the American Medical Association, this site contains more information like office hours, accepted insurance providers, and educational history.
 Cancer Specific Information and Resources
 Selected Southeast Wisconsin Community Health Programs & Resources
 Selected Statewide Wisconsin Community Health Programs & Resources
  • BadgerCare Plus is a program for children under 19 years of age and families in Wisconsin who need and want health insurance. This program is open to all children, regardless of family income.  Visit the BadgerCare Plus Web page to find more information, check your eligibility, and apply for the program. (Please note that as of April 1, 2014 the BadgerCare Plus Core and Basic Plans have ended.) 
  • FoodShare Wisconsin helps low-income families and individuals to buy nutritious food. Information on who qualifies and how to apply is listed on their Web page.
  • Wisconsin Medicaid is a program from the federal and state government. For those people who qualify, this program pays for medical services. People who may qualify include people with disabilities, people 65 years who meet the program's financial requirements and are United States citizens or legal immigrants. Go to the Web site to learn more about this program and how to find out if you qualify.
  • The Medigap Helpline may help you make decisions about Medicare and other insurance issues. This free helpline is sponsored by the State of Wisconsin, State Health Insurance & Assistance Program (SHIP). The helpline number is 1-800-242-1060, or learn more about them by going to their Web site.
  • The Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Web page provides links to useful resources for the deaf and hard of hearing in the State of Wisconsin.
  • To find useful links to information about how to pay for prescription drugs, go to The Prescription Drug Assistance Programs Web page.
  • The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line offers free coaching on how to quit smoking or chewing tobacco. This site is sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or go to their Web site to learn more.
  • The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) is a large AIDS service agency. They offer many health and social services to over 3,000 Wisconsin residents living with HIV disease.
  • Domestic Violence Resources
    • The National Domestic Violence Web site contains useful information. By phone, they can be reached by calling a toll free number: 1-800-799-SAFE.
      There are many domestic violence resources located throughout Wisconsin.
    • Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence Provides Wisconsin domestic violence member programs and their communities with training, technical assistance, support and resources to assist them in serving all victims of violence and their communities.
 MCW Libraries Consumer Health Information Services

The MCW Libraries are open to the public for nonprofit research. Members of the community seeking health information are welcome to use the many electronic and print resources as well as Reference services available at MCW Libraries. See About the Medical College of Wisconsin Libraries for more information about locations and hours.

To help navigate the Web to find reliable health information, the MCW Libraries has created a consumer health Web site, MCWCHARTS. This Web site contains information about evaluating consumer health Web sites and links to several excellent online resources containing health information.  Contact us with questions or inquiries about community events and group presentations.

A previous version of this page, "MCWCHARTS" ("MCW Consumer Health: Accessing Reliable Trusted Sources"), was made possible by a grant from Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin.

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