Website Reviews: Womenshealth.gov

Reviewed by Ambra Gagliardi:

Finding reliable and accurate women’s health information online can be challenging. For example, a simple Google search on “breastfeeding” generates over 15 million results, and a search on “breast cancer” yields more than 218 million links. An information seeker has to ask herself which of those results are worth pursuing? Which are reliable and accurate? Knowing where to look first can, in this instance, literally be a lifesaver. This review takes a closer look at womenshealth.gov, a website produced by the federal government that filters millions of academic, non-profit and commercial websites about women’s health and provides a comprehensive list of reliable and accurate resources. 

The website:

Womenshealth.gov is a website managed by the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Covering a range of broad topics, this website seeks to educate people on how the female body works and provide easy-access channels to helpful resources. The website focuses on information and resources including educational tools and support programs regarding the physical and mental health of women and girls. 

The features:

The womenshealth.gov website is full of resources and information on women’s health. Interactive images and videos are everywhere on the website and accompany much of the text to help inform viewers with multi-modal learning styles and differing levels of literacy. Infographics visualize data and information and are available to view, save, and print. The publication tab found on the website is very robust and includes things like factsheets, e-magazines and e-books available as PDFs, as well as federal reports produced by HHS and OWH dating back to 2000, which ensures that the information provided is current.

Other special features include interviews with women on health topics, instructions on how to access quick health data online, links to statistics provided by HHS, links to related blogs and apps, a newsfeed updated daily with links to articles regarding women’s health, and more.

Affordable Care Act infographic found on womenshealth.gov

My opinion:

While the amount of information found on womenshealth.gov is vast, the searching tools and layout of the website make it user-friendly and easy to navigate. The design is clean and vibrant and the information is nicely organized. The website goes above and beyond to accommodate different users. For example, a Spanish language option is found on the home page. Once clicked, the entirety of the website can subsequently be viewed in Spanish. Features like text enlargement and an option to contact OWH for alternative ways of accessing web information are also found on the website, which complies with the Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 accessibility requirements. 

More ways I observed that the website accommodates users include print icons and downloadable PDF options that are easily found on every page. There are also social networking icons that make it easy for viewers to share information. The “viewers and players” tab found on the “about” page provides thorough guides on accessing the information found on the website. Pages discussing domestic violence information contain “easy escape” buttons, which allow users to leave the website and return to their internet browser in the event that they want their searching to remain undetected. This, as well as contact information for a help hotline, gives users a sense of safety and security while using the website. All of these things, along with many more, are what make this site a true gem of health information found online. 

Not only do I think womenshealth.gov is a great reference tool to be used with a specific women’s health question in mind, but I also think it makes for a great discovery platform to be searched and explored for fun. This website provides librarians with a resource to help patrons find relevant and important information on women’s health. It also helps health professionals: there is a link found on the publications tab providing tips for this population about how to use womenshealth.gov with their patients. 

Recommendations:

Some pages within the website haven’t been updated for 3-4 years. Though the information on these pages is still useful, I would recommend the OWH to update the pages more often. I also found a few links that take viewers to error pages, which include the A-Z Health Topics index. These should be fixed. 

In all, I love this website and recommend bookmarking it for future use. 

 

Ambra Gagliardi is an MLS student at the University of Maryland iSchool enrolled in the eGovernment specialization. Ambra is a recipient of a Laura Bush 21st Century scholarship funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.