Thanks to HealthPowerForMinorities.org, better health literacy is only a click away.
“The goal of our Web site is to be the most trusted source for minority and multicultural health information,” says Dr. Norma Goodwin, founder, president and CEO of Health Power for Minorities, LLC. The company creates culturally appropriate health materials and programs. The Web site is one of its major projects.
“We created the Web site because we saw a real need for it,” Goodwin says. “The Internet is a major source of health information for many Americans, but there isn’t a lot of information on it that has been adapted for multicultural populations.”
Goodwin knew that if health information on the Internet did not become more culturally relevant, health disparities would widen. People who knew how to use the major health Web sites would increase their health knowledge. People who did not use the Internet for health information would fall behind.
“We knew we had to make our information and messages user friendly, and keep them short and simple. The goal for us in the health field is to take no more than five minutes to give good, easy-to-understand basic health information,” Goodwin says. “Discussion, of course, must follow.”
Goodwin thought about health literacy when developing all areas of the Web site. Instead of calling one section a “Glossary,” she called it “What it Means.” She made all pages printer friendly. This way, people could print them and talk about the information with their doctors. She made the design exciting. She included soul food recipes and added different information for different cultural groups.
“The goal is to provide health information that causes change,” she says. “People can’t plan to act until they understand. People can’t understand until they have information.”
The problem is not only health literacy. Goodwin says many people are not comfortable using computers and the Internet.
“We need to be interesting enough to attract people to the site. That’s why we’re working with faith-based groups and community groups. We teach them about
our site. We’re also trying to get employers to see how important it is to have computers in break rooms,” says Goodwin.
Goodwin’s methods are working. Today, HealthPowerForMinorities.org is listed in the top five Google sites for both health information for minorities and multicultural populations. It gets more than 2 million hits per year. Many large national health organizations also use the Web site as a resource for their patients.
“Our tagline is ‘Knowledge + Action = Power.’ And I truly believe that,” she says. “We are empowering people to take action. And there’s nothing more satisfying than that.”