TITLE: Women's Health Interactive

Access: http://www.womens-health.com/

Women's Health Interactive (WHI) is a commercial site established in 1996. Its mission is "to be a unique, interactive learning environment where women gain knowledge and mastery of their health through the multidisciplinary resources that are offered for consumers and women's health professionals." The bulk of the site's information is in ten different "Health Centers," covering topics such as mental health, infertility, headache, and menopause. These Health Centers include quizzes to determine individual learning needs, informational content, FAQ's, discussion boards, and an "Action Plan," an online form for setting and tracking personal goals. Video webcasts consisting of panels of experts are available for some topics. The main menu also includes "Women's Services," "Resources," and "Affiliations," which provide links to other sites, health care providers, and medical associations. A search of the entire site is also available.

The information is presented in a straightforward and attractive manner and is aimed at health consumers. Although women's health professionals are part of the mission statement, very little professional-level information is presented. There are advertisements and some health-related retail "alliances" but they are not intrusive. Users must create an account to use some of the services, such as action plans and consumer surveys. The WHI privacy policy is well stated and readily available.

The WHI site seems surprisingly unfinished for one that has been around for so long. While some of the Health Centers, such as Reproductive Health, contain significant amounts of information, the Nutrition Center offers only brief information on "nutrition for a healthy heart." The Discussion section contains only seven groups, the busiest of which had only 11 posts in six months. Some internal links were invalid, and a developer's note ("I recommend a picture here...") appeared on one of the pages. Links enabling the user to return to previous pages or sections sometimes aren't present.

WHI provides a good introduction to many women's health topics appropriate for a general audience. It is a promising site with some bright spots, but substantial growth would help it become a more complete resource. Communication with the authors reveals that they do plan to continue adding more information and additional Health Centers. Comparable sites are The National Women's Health Information Center (http://www.4woman.gov/) and allHealth.com (http://www.allhealth.com/).

DeAnne Luck
Austin Peay State University

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