Consumer Health Information*

For more information on this course contact Emily Vardell at

This course will explore how to provide health information services for the community in a variety of settings - from public libraries to academic libraries. The course will discuss approaches to locating authoritative health information for laypeople and the most effective ways to convey the information, with a focus on information for special populations. This course will also discuss how to conduct consumer health outreach projects, from locating grant funding to conducting outreach within different communities.

Course URL:

Course Objectives: 

Upon completion of this course, students will:

  1. Better understand the consumer health movement and its impact.
  2. Be knowledgeable about accessing consumer health information with a focus on providing information for individuals with a variety of health literacy skills.
  3. Be able to identify and evaluate sources of consumer health information.
  4. Be familiar with appropriate policies and trends related to consumer health information.
  5. Have an understanding of how to undertake consumer health outreach projects.


Week 1:


History of Consumer and Patient Health Librarianship



Spatz Chapter 1

Student Profile in Canvas, Due: 5/28

Week 2:


Health Information Literacy

Health Literacy Basics for Health Professionals (video)


Health Literacy from the National Library of Medicine (link)


Rubenstein, E. L. (2016). Health information and health literacy: Public library practices, challenges, and opportunities. Public Library Quarterly, 35(1), 49–71.

Discussion board post: locate a resource and offer concrete suggestions for improvement


Identify topic for your Pathfinder/LibGuide project

Week 3:


Evaluating Consumer- and Patient-Friendly Technology Resources

Spatz Chapter 5


Finding and Evaluating Online Resources (link)


Evaluating Internet Health Information: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine (link)

CHQ 1,  Due: 6/11


Discussion board post: write annotation for consumer health resource to be included in your Pathfinder/LibGuide

Week 4:


Consumer Health Reference Service

Spatz Chapter 7

Consumer Health Interview Assignment, Due: 6/18


Week 5:


Ethical Issues in Providing Consumer and Patient Health Information

Spatz Chapter 8

Discussion board post: address ethical scenario

Week 6:


Outreach and Community Engagement

Whitney, W., Dutcher, G. A., & Keselman, A. (2013). Evaluation of health information outreach: Theory, practice, and future direction. Journal of the Medical Library Association, 101(2), 138-146.


Eastwood, E., & Goldman, B. (2007). Help your health! Establishing a consumer health program in a small public library. Journal Of Hospital Librarianship, 7(2), 57-65.

Discussion board post: locate a funding opportunity for health information outreach

Week 7:


Meeting the Needs of Diverse Groups/Cultural Sensitivity

Spatz Chapter 10 and 11


Review (link)

CHQ 2, Due: 7/9


Discussion board post: reflect on your preparedness to meet diverse needs

Week 8:


Where to Start? Needs Assessment

Spatz Chapter 2

Discussion board post: draft a needs assessment plan for your project

Week 9:


Health Insurance Information Needs

Vardell, E. & Charbonneau, D. (2017). Health insurance literacy and roles for reference librarian involvement. Reference Librarian, 58(2), 124-135.

Pathfinder/LibGuide on Consumer Health Topic, Due: 7/23

Week 10:


Social Media for Health Consumers and Patients/ Marketing Health Library Services

Spatz Chapter 9 and 12

Updated due date: CHQ 3, Due: 7/30


Discussion board post: review a consumer health social media channel using marketing chapter to assess

Week 11:


Prized Assets/ Strategic Partnerships

Spatz Chapter 6 and 13

Discussion board post: identify the key players, assets, and partnerships needed for your proposed outreach project

Week 12:


Costs, Budgeting, and Funding

Spatz Chapter 4

Submit Draft Grant Proposal for Outreach Project, Due: 8/10

MLA CE Credits: 24