August 1999 Bulletin

Strong, weak points of top health sites

By J. Sybil Biermann, MD

This following list is a compilation of some of the best orthopaedic patient education sites and some of the most well-known health information sites. Taking into account the expansive and dynamic nature of the Internet, any list of this sort cannot be comprehensive, and some excellent sites may be absent. Information and critiques are based on accessing of web sites between April 15, 1999 and July 2, 1999.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

http://www.aaos.org

Author: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Description: A thorough, well-organized list of information with easy to understand information on symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of common orthopaedic conditions.

Strong Points

Weak Points

Arthritis Foundation

http://www.arthritis.org

Author: the Arthritis Foundation

Description: Fact sheets available on a wide variety of nonsurgical topics frequently not addressed by surgeons. Also, good detail on a wide variety of arthritis

Strong points

Weak Points

Drkoop.com

http://www.drkoop.com/

Author: Website states that it "relies on many dedicated medical professionals" under the direction of CEO, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD.

Description: Site dedicated to medical information on a wide variety of topics with standardized headings for organization. Patient education materials on orthopaedic topics mainly limited to arthritis (RA and OA), low back pain and osteoporosis. Chat rooms and message boards.

Strong Points

Weak Points

Interactive Orthopaedic Patient Education

http://www.medicalmultimediagroup.com/index.html

Author: Randale Sechrest, private practice orthopaedic surgeon

Description: Patient education materials with excellent graphics, easy-to-read descriptions of common orthopaedic maladies. Lots of links to pictures or other graphics. Comprehensive, readable explanations of both operative and nonoperative conditions.

Strong points

Weak points

National Cancer Institute: Cancernet

http://cancernet.nci.nih.gov/cancer_information/

Author: Consensus Statements

Description: Presents peer-reviewed, up-to-date relevant information for patients with primary and metastatic musculoskeletal malignancies in a general, not institutionally directed fashion. Best general information for the orthopaedic oncology patient.

Strong Points

Weak points

National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Consumer Health Information

http://cancernet.nci.nih.gov/cancer_information/

Author: Multiple

Description: A government-sponsored site which features recent news releases, peer-reviewed consensus statements, MEDLINE searching and clinical trials databases on arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases.

Strong points

Weak points

Orthoweb

Authors: not listed, no credits

Description: Patient level information on selected topics, heavy on arthritis and surgical treatments.

Strong points

Weak points

InteliHealth

http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH

Author: Johns Hopkins Health Information Service.

Description: Information from Johns Hopkins, physician interviews, a wide variety of other sources. A broad-based patient information site. Very frequent updates and good for "current events" in health. Good search capabilities.

Strong points

Weak points

New York Online Access to Health (NOAH)

http://www.noah-health.org/

Author: Varied according to page linked.

Description: A link page for health topics, started and maintained with federal grants and other philanthropy, now maintained by federal and state nonprofit organizations. Although a general health resource, it has some great sections on orthopaedic topics.

Strong points

Weak points

Orthopaedic Web Links

http://www.orthopaedicweblinks.com/

Author: Myles Clough

Description: Extremely thorough link page to a wide variety of sources of patient education materials.

Strong points

Weak points

Southern California Orthopaedic Institute

http://www.scoi.com/

Author: not stated, presumably members of the SCOI

Description: Brief blurbs on orthopaedic conditions and procedures in easy-to-read script with nice basic diagrams. Mainstream information.

Strong Points

Weak Points

University of Washington Orthopaedic Physicians

http://www.orthop.washington.edu/

Author: University of Washington faculty.

Description: General information articles with up-to-date information on selected orthopaedic topics.

Strong points

Weak points

J. Sybil Biermann, MD, is assistant professor of surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.


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