GP, website consultant and regular columnist in NHS Magazine on the Internet, Dr Harry Brown offers his latest selection of hot health sites on the World Wide Web
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One of the great benefits of the web is the ability to make information available to a global audience, relatively easily and cheaply. This allows individuals and small organisations to state their case. One such site produced by a single person can be found at http://www3.sympatico.ca/anne.maclellan/index.html. This is the story of a mother's experiences with an eight-year-old son with autism. She writes well on her experiences and gives an excellent perspective on managing a difficult problem. In addition through a generous sprinkling of links, http://www3.sympatico.ca/anne.maclellan/page10.html there is the ability to find out more information from other sources. Health professionals as well as families of autistic children will learn something new from this site.
Diseases of the thyroid are not always well understood and so it comes as no great surprise that the web has this angle covered. For a fact and feature packed site, look no further than http://thyroid.miningco.com/. From a well-designed home page, there is a huge array of easy to read information. If you are interested in the topic then this is a great place to start. Using this as a central information source, follow the articles and features as well as the links and most of your questions about thyroid disease should be answered. I particularly enjoyed the section on dealing with the medical world found at http://thyroid.miningco.com/msub7.htm
Most people have heard of the General Medical Council and it's powers to stop rogue doctors practising. The General Medical council has other roles but it's the disciplinary role that tends to make the headlines. What many people don't always realise that there is an equivalent for other para-medical disciplines in the United Kingdom. It's called the council for professions supplementary to medicine and has responsibility for 9 health professions, such as Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. Their web site - http://www.cpsm.co.uk/ - is small and has a straightforwards design but contains the core information helping to raise the profile of this important organisation. It just proves you don't have to possess large volumes of content or have whizzy eye catching graphics to have a credible web presence.
An excellent UK sourced site with a snappy, self-explanatory name can be found at http://www.patientsupport.org.uk. The intelligent use of frames coupled with a simple indexing system means that this site can be effortlessly and quickly explored. In particular the web support centre found at http://www.patientsupport.org.uk/ww_web/w_index.htm is especially useful. This is effectively an index site to useful patient orientated information found on the web. The selection of health categories found in the left hand frame contains a wide-ranging list of subjects which will interest the majority of readers. This web site contains a vast array of information and is a superb reference source. Well worth a visit.
Another useful site with helpful patient orientated material comes from Priority Healthcare Wearside NHS Trust based in the North East of England. They have produced a snappy and colourful web site which deserves top marks for site design and accessibility of information. For a flavour look initially at http://www.phw.co.uk/public.html. From there I found the leaflets sections very helpful and in particular the drugs fact sheet is one of the best I have read - http://www.phw.co.uk/drugfact.html. It's well worth following some of the hypertext links and exploring this site. Having the backing of a National Health Service trust gives the material a fair degree of authority.
With the travel season in full swing, its surprising how many travel health related problems there can be. Many of these problems can be prevented by taking simple measures and the net can be a useful source of travel health tips. One site to pop in to is http://travelhealth.com/. Its main page is a model of clarity with most of the information accessed from the index page. This means that most of the information is rapidly available without the often annoying multiple mouse clicks. Though there is a bias towards the US based traveller much of the information is of relevance to any holidaymaker.
For an informative, easy to read, feature packed site about pregnancy and babycare look no further than http://www.babyworld.com/. Despite its.com address, the web site is designed for the British market with references to UK specific issues like welfare benefits. Even so, the volume of information is pitched at just the right level to inform the newly pregnant mum and her partner of what to do and expect. If you have just had the baby there are all sorts of useful information such as equipment hire, http://www.babyworld.com/equphire.htm. The main index page http://www.babyworld.com/mainmenu.htm is quite long and may require a fair bit of scrolling to access all the points of information. However it's a great way of obtaining a bird's eye view of this site. Well worth a visit if you are expecting or just had a new addition to the family.
There is something for everyone on the Internet and that maxim applies equally to the health field. A general site aimed at young people http://www.thesite.org.uk/ has a pretty good health section found at http://www.thesite.org/info/health There is a collection of relevant broad health topics and within the general health section there is an excellent collection of UK specific links both at local and national levels. It's a useful point to do some fun but educational surfing.
The name Encyclopaedia Britannica is the Rolls Royce of both publishing and information providing. It's a brand name that is well recognised and more importantly trusted. The Britannica organisation has produced a high quality web site called the Britannica Internet Guide found at http://www.ebig.com/ This is a rating site that gives information about the web sites which it reviews. The home page is well laid and a good starting point to commence some serious surfing. The health section is very interesting and a visit is highly recommended. It's easily found from the home page by clicking on the health and medicine icon. From here, on the right hand panel there are further choices within the health field such as mental health and alternative medicine. This is a web site which oozes class.
Finally talking of encyclopaedias check out the URL with the self-explanatory name http://www.encyclopedia.com/. It contains free access to about 17000 articles from a well-established encyclopaedia. The search facility is simplicity itself to use and there is excellent use of hypertext links and links to other search engines. It's a superb resource for a quick authoritative check on a topic and an ideal assistant for homework. The service itself is designed as a taster for further premium services (in other words you pay) for other sources of information. However the free access to the encyclopaedia is fine in itself. Have fun!
If you have any suggestions for sites to review in future editions of this column then we will be delighted to hear from you. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
No endorsement of the sites reviewed is intended by the NHS or Dr Harry and neither the NHS or Dr Harry carry any responsibility for their content.