Welcome to Health Compass! The Health Compass Web site was designed with you, the older adult, in mind. The site was developed to help you better understand health and medical research information on aging. It can help you answer the following questions:

  • What sources of health information are reliable, and how can I find them?
  • How can I tell whether a Web site has trustworthy information or not?
  • What's involved in a typical medical research study?
  • What do the news reports of medical research studies really mean?
  • How do I know what to believe in product advertisements?
  • How can I use the health information I read in the media and on the Internet to make decisions about my health care and lifestyle?
  • How can I communicate better with my doctor and other healthcare providers about my health care questions and choices?

If you are not an experienced Internet user, the following information will help you learn how to use and "navigate" the Health Compass Web site. It will be most helpful if you print out the following information and then follow the step-by-step instructions.

Click here to download a PDF version of the survey.

Click here to download a MS Word version of the survey.

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Getting Started

To get started, take a look at the Health Compass home page (at www.healthcompass.org), which looks like this:

This page shows you that the Health Compass site has three major sections:

  • Find
  • Evaluate
  • Act

See the menu bar on the left side of the screen? This lists each of the three major sections of Health Compass: Find, Evaluate, and Act. The menu bar also lists other sections of the site. We'll get back to those later.

Clicking once on any item in this menu bar will take you directly to the first page or screen of that particular section of information. This menu will always be there for you, so you can never get "lost."

Let's take a look at the first section, Find. Note that you can click once either on the menu item for Find on the left side of the screen, or on the words "click here" that appear after the brief explanation of what the Find section covers.

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Getting Familiar with the Program

This is the first page of the Find section. You'll see that it is divided into 3 parts:

  1. Find health information
  2. Search the Web for reliable health information
  3. Find key points

You'll see that the menu on the left of your screen has automatically expanded to list these 3 parts. Again, you can access any one of these parts by clicking either on the menu item on the left, or on the words "click here" in the text.

Try going to the three parts of the Find section, take a look at the information, and use your menu and other "click here" arrows to return to the first page of the Find section.

At the end of each section, there is an arrow that says "back to top." Clicking on this is a quick way to return to the beginning of that section.

You can always refer to the menu bar on the left side of your screen to help you locate your place in the program. Or, you can begin again by clicking on the "Home" button at the top of the screen.

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Exploring Health Compass

By now, you should feel a little more comfortable moving around in the Health Compass Web site. Take a quick look at the other two main sections, Evaluate and Act, and familiarize yourself with their contents and organization.

You will notice that the Evaluate section contains some fairly detailed information about how medical research is conducted and reported on, both on the Internet and in other media.

This information may not be of interest to all Health Compass users. However, it is there for those who may want a more detailed explanation of the types of research studies and how research articles are written. Knowing about these key features of research studies can help you distinguish reliable studies from less reliable ones, allowing you to become a better-informed "consumer" of health information.

Now, let's also take a look at some of the additional features of Health Compass. Go to the first page of the Evaluate section, and click on the first part of the section, which is called "Understand scientific research studies."

You should see the following on your screen:

Scan through the text under the Introduction. You may need to "scroll down" the page by clicking your mouse on the bar on the right side of your screen (hold the mouse click down while you move your mouse down to pull the bar down lower). Do you see a few terms that are highlighted and followed by the symbol ?

You should see the terms "study design" and "probability" marked in this way. This means that these terms are included in the Health Compass glossary. Clicking once on any glossary term will bring up a new dialog box or window that contains the Health Compass glossary. The dialog box will display the specific term you clicked on plus its definition.

You can read the definition and then close the window, which will allow you to continue from where you left off. You could also scroll up and down in the new dialog box to see the entire glossary.

If you have a medical or research term you want to look up, you can also go directly to the glossary by clicking once on the word "Glossary" in the menu bar on the left side of your screen.

This will take you to the first page of the Glossary.

You can click on the first letter of the word you are searching for, or you can scroll through the entire glossary to see what terms are explained here.

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Other Features

You may already have noticed a few other features while learning to navigate around Health Compass.

  • Did you see links to other Web sites? The address or "URL" for other Web sites are in blue type, and begin with "http://€?" Try clicking on one of these. You will see that a new window opens on your screen that contains the new Web site. You can review this site and then close the window to return to your place in Health Compass.
  • Did you notice an occasional Health Compass Tip? These Tips include additional or related information that you might find useful.
  • You'll also see Key Points at the end of each section that give a brief summary of the information you've just read.
  • Check out the list of additional resources by clicking on the word "Resources" in the menu bar on the left side of your screen. This includes a helpful list of additional Web sites and a few books that expand on the information in Health Compass. Each entry in the list has a brief explanation of the information that is included in that resource.


You've learned how to navigate the Health Compass Web site and how to get started on increasing your knowledge of medical and health information. Visit Health Compass often to review and see what's new!

Please remember to fill out the users feedback form. You can get to this form by clicking on the "Home" button at the top right of the Health Compass screen, and scrolling down to the "Feedback" button. Your comments will help us continue to improve Health Compass for future users.