What is the Veterans Health Library?
The Veterans Health Library (VHL) is coordinated by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. The VHL is a comprehensive online health resource provided to assist Veterans, their families, and caregivers understand and maintain their best health no matter where they receive care. It features timely health topics and provides a list of Veteran Resources based on the most-frequently searched topics. Health information on the website is regularly reviewed to ensure it remains evidence-based, up-to-date, and relevant to the needs of Veterans. With more than 1.6 million page views per year, the VHL is a popular resource for health information that empowers Veterans to better understand their health, their healthcare, and their options.
How does one access the Veterans Health Library? Who can use it?
The Veterans Health Library is a free-of charge platform available to anyone with an internet connection and its contents can be used by anyone regardless of where they receive their care. There is no required sign-up or login for the Veterans Health Library and users can access health information from the site at any time. Users may simply go to https://www.veteranshealthlibrary.va.gov.
VHL content is crafted to aid its users to better understand and manage their own healthcare. Many VHL resources link to uniquely Veteran-focused information, benefits, and programs that help inform Veterans, their families, and caregivers. The VHL can also be accessed by Veterans through MyHealtheVet, an online portal for Veterans receiving healthcare through VA. MyHealtheVet serves to help Veterans manage their prescriptions, appointments, secure messages with medical staff, and their health records.
What health content is available?
The Veterans Health Library hosts health information and resources, written using plain language, health literacy, and accessibility principles, with many materials in both English and Spanish. This includes over 1,600 health information sheets and 6,000 medication information sheets, all in an easy to print format. The VHL offers a catalogue of over 250 health videos across 15 categories such as Cancer (18 videos), Diabetes (15), Medications (19), Pregnancy and Women’s Health (18), and others. It contains in-depth Online Guides on topics such as cardiology, dental, eye and vision care, general health, and orthopedics. Interactive Go-to Guides include text, videos, printable action plans, quizzes and more to help Veterans better manage their chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic heart disease, diabetes, heart failure, lung disease, and stroke recovery and prevention. Additional Decision Aid Tools help Veterans to better understand treatment options, share results with their healthcare team, and work with them in developing a personalized treatment plan. The Decision Aid Tools assist Veterans in talking with their providers about their own personal health decisions around colorectal cancer screenings, diabetes care, and both flu and COVID-19 vaccinations.
How do users navigate the Veterans Health Library?
The VHL provides a four-minute video tour to help users understand how to get the most out of the VHL and find what they need. The web tour is fully transcribed and designed to help users learn the website and how to share it with Veterans and others.
There are several ways for Veterans, their families, and caregivers to quickly and easily find the health information they need on the website. There is a main search box that provides a keyword search across all content categories and formats. Below the search box there is an alphabetical browse of the Health Encyclopedia articles. Each article includes a side-bar full of links to related content and VA resources relevant to the health topic within the article.
The Veterans Health Library provides browsable clusters of curated content that serve users who wish to explore additional health information through the tabs on Living Well, Diseases & Conditions, Tests & Treatments, Medications, Rehabilitation, Mental Health, Living With… [chronic conditions], and Additional Resources. Each of those categories are broken down into sub-categories that range from a few to a few dozen related resources. This curated approach leads users to dozens of related resources within the VHL as well as resources and benefits available through other VA programs, so Veterans and users can find the information they need.
When should I suggest the Veterans Health Library to a Veteran or other user?
The VHL offers resources to help Veterans better understand and take an active role in their health care. Share the VHL with Veterans, their family members, and caregivers as a tool they can use to better understand and manage their own health. Specific resources may be beneficial with certain health situations such as:
- Instructional graphics to help Veterans understand how to take their medicines.
- Tracking diaries to support self-care and self-management of health conditions.
- Online guides to help prepare for surgical procedures.
- Preventive screening information to stay up to date with recommended tests.
- Health sheets to educate family members and caregivers on Veteran health issues.
By recommending the VHL to Veterans and those close to them, you can help empower them to take charge in pursuit of their best health.
How can I learn more?
The Veterans Health Library provides an overview of its contents and functions and has a list of frequently asked questions. You can also contact the My HealtheVet Help Desk via the online form or by calling 1-877-327-0022. The Help Desk is available Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 am – 8 pm EST. You can provide feedback through the user survey linked on every page. Together, librarians can help ensure that Veterans are well and well-informed.