NIH News Advisory
National Library of Medicine

Tuesday, October 28, 1997
Bob Mehnert
Kathy Cravedi
(301) 496-6308

NIH Sponsors Training Program to Help Senior Citizens Find Health Information on the Internet

The National Library of Medicine, a part of the National Institutes of Health, is co-sponsoring a project to "train trainers" of senior citizens from around the country in how to access health information on the Internet. NLM is coordinating the joint project with two other components of the NIH—the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Office of Research on Women’s Health—and the HHS Health Care Financing Administration and the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The project is administered by the SPRY (Setting Priorities for Retirement Years) Foundation in Washington, D.C. SPRY is a nonprofit national organization devoted to research and education efforts on senior citizens health and retirement issues.

The train-the-trainer project, to be held at the Library on November 3 and 4, will consist a series of intensive workshops for 21 trainers of senior citizens from a dozen states (AZ, DC, FL, IA, MA, MD, MO, NC, NY, OH, PA, VA). The program will give special emphasis to trainers from public libraries, senior centers, and subsidized housing who work with low income and minority seniors. After they participate in the training in Bethesda, the trainers will return home and train a minimum of 10 seniors per site. A multiplier effect is expected to raise that number substantially as more and more senior citizens find that they can retrieve valuable information about their health.

This program builds on an earlier retiree healthcare pilot project funded by NIH and administered by SPRY. That project demonstrated that retirees are well motivated to acquire computer and Internet skills so that they can play an active role in their healthcare management and share their knowledge and skills with others. This local (MD, DC, and VA) project was jointly funded in 1996 by the National Cancer Institute and the NIH Office on Research on Women’s Health.

"This is an especially timely project," said NLM Director Donald A. B. Lindberg, M.D. "The Library recently announced that access to its immense MEDLINE database would be free to all users of the World Wide Web and we believe that consumers can benefit from access." Vice President Al Gore, who made the announcement of free MEDLINE in June, said "Better and more up-to-date information in the hands of consumers means we can treat diseases more quickly and maybe even prevent some of them in the first place." Programs such as the "train the trainer" project are intended to help achieve these goals.

The press is invited to a reception for the participants on Monday, November 3, in the first floor reception area of the Library’s Lister Hill Center (Building 38A).