School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 598 Consumer Health Information

Course Outline
Winter 2015 (ONE CREDIT)

Instructor: Tami Oliphant 
Phone: 780-492-2033
Office: 3-04 Rutherford South

Calendar Description: This course investigates the growing need for individuals, families, and communities to access, make sense of, and use health information as greater responsibility for health care decision-making is placed on the public. The course will examine concepts of health; user information needs, seeking, and use; professional consumer health literature; current trends and issues; and information services and resources for diverse health care needs.

Course Objectives: Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: 

  • Recognize and understand human health as a resource for everyday living and the complex health contexts underlying health information needs, seeking, and use;
  • Identify the challenges of providing relevant consumer health information to users of all ages, from different backgrounds, and in various settings;
  • Understand the broader context of consumer health information provision including health literacy, ethics, barriers to information, and health disparities;
  • Identify and evaluate types of resources (both online and offline) that people use when they access, seek, and use health information;
  • Develop an understanding and overview of consumer health information and sources and current trends in consumer health, particularly as they pertain to information providers.


Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Definitions
  • Health care users from infants to seniors
  • Social support and informal care
  • Health disparities and barriers to access
  • Health literacy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)
  • Fads and trends in consumer health
  • Self-monitoring and the quantified self
  • Contemporary trends and best practices in consumer health information seeking and usage
  • Design and development of consumer health resources
  • Evaluating consumer health information sources—credibility, believability, reliability
  • Consumer access to clinical information and current research
  • Ethics, privacy
  • Technologies used to deliver health information

Methods: lecture, hands-on activities, computer demonstrations

Course Relationships: Prerequisites: LIS 501, LIS 503

Required Readings:


Assignments and Weighting:

 Possible assignments include:

  • Write an analysis of an online consumer health resource and develop a lightening talk (10-minute presentation) to inform others about the resource you selected.
  • Article reports—each student will be assigned an article to report on back to the class.
  • A consumer health case study—students will select a consumer health user (or user group) and information problem and write-up a case study that examines the broad background context of the user’s or user group’s situation. Details will be discussed in class.
  • Class participation.

Course Schedule:

Friday, April 17, 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Saturday, April 18, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Sunday, April 19, 9:00am – 12:00noon

School of Library and Information Studies Grading Statement:

Grades reflect professional judgements of student achievement made by instructors. These judgements are based on a combination of absolute achievement and relative performance in class. The instructor should mark in terms of raw scores, rank the assignments in order of merit, and with due attention to the verbal descriptions of the various grades, assign an appropriate final letter grade.

Grades are calculated in accordance with the SLIS Grading Procedure

Academic Integrity:

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University.

Students should also be mindful of the SLIS Copyright Policy.

Inclusive Language and Equity:

The Faculty of Education is committed to providing an environment of respect for all people within the university community and to educating faculty, staff, and students in developing teaching and learning contexts that are welcoming to all. The Faculty recommends that students and staff use inclusive language to create a classroom atmosphere in which students’ experiences and views are treated with equal respect and value in relation to their gender, racial background, sexual orientation and ethnic background. Students who require accommodations in this course due to a disability affecting mobility, vision, hearing, learning, or mental or physical health are advised to discuss their needs with Specialized Support and Disability Services.

Recording of Lectures:

Recording of lectures is permitted only with the prior written consent of the professor or if recording is part of an approved accommodation plan.

Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.