Translating Research into Health Information You Can Trust

Guest post by Griffin P. Rodgers, MD, MACP, Director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at NIH. Dr. Rodgers hosts the weekly Healthy Moments Radio Broadcast, that offers tips to audiences on how to prevent and manage the various diseases within NIDDK’s mission.

If a loved one tells you that you’re perfect, you can probably spot the potential bias quickly, right? Identifying a trusted source isn’t as easy when you’re trying to find information on the internet.

Having access to a wide variety of health information online has changed the way people seek information and make decisions about their well-being. With so many websites and apps providing health content, how can you determine what source of information and content is trustworthy and accurate? This can be difficult.

As the largest funder of investigator-initiated and peer-reviewed medical research, NIH is a good place to start your search for reliable health information. Communicating what we learn from our extensive medical research is at the heart of the health information you will find on the NIDDK website. Our research areas include:

  • Diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases
  • Liver and other digestive diseases
  • Nutrition disorders
  • Obesity
  • Kidney, urologic, and hematologic diseases

Diabetes, obesity, and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are chronic diseases that are connected and affect many people. Our free health information is informed by the research we fund and conduct to find better ways to prevent, treat, and cure diseases.

A landmark NIDDK-supported study called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) has helped us provide tips about how to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes, use diabetes medicines including metformin, and how to avoid or manage the array of health problems related to diabetes.

Our type 1 diabetes health information includes findings from the NIDDK-funded Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and a follow-up study, that together showed keeping blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible slows the onset and progression of kidney, eye, and nerve damage caused by type 1 diabetes.

We also shared what we learned studying weight-loss (bariatric) surgery in adults and youth in content about weight-loss surgery. The Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS) and Teen-LABS studies advanced our understanding of the risks and benefits of weight-loss surgery in adults and adolescents who have obesity. We are still studying the long-term health outcomes after surgery.

Kidney research supported through our Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) study has guided the development of health information about factors that cause CKD to worsen in adults or increase a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease. NIDDK, along with other NIH Institutes, also supports the Chronic Kidney Disease in Children (CKiD) study, which has helped us understand the causes of CKD in children and how it affects a child’s health and development. NIDDK’s health information about kidney disease in children offers parents, caregivers, and youth an overview of kidney disease and how to treat it.

Another example of how we translate research discoveries into health information for the public is NIDDK’s research on viral hepatitis, which led to the development of many of the liver topics in our health information pages. NIDDK funded and conducted liver studies have led to the discovery of the hepatitis B virus, a vaccine for hepatitis B, improved treatments for hepatitis B and C. You can also find information about many diseases and disorders that are less common, but can have a profound impact on the people affected, such as Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome.

We offer health information in English and Spanish. To help ensure that our audiences can easily find, read, and use our information, we review the content for scientific and clinical accuracy and plain language. To reach people where they are, we also make our health information available through MedlinePlus Connect, a free service of NIH’s National Library of Medicine (NLM), which links electronic health record systems and patient portals to NIH information.

NIDDK continues its mission to combat disease and disseminate health information anchored in our research to improve public health. I invite you to visit the NIDDK website to learn more about our research and to read and share our health information.

Dr. Rodgers has served as NIDDK Director since 2007. As a research investigator, he is widely recognized for his contributions to the development of the first effective therapy for sickle cell anemia. Dr. Rodgers serves as a chair, co-chair, and member of numerous high-level trans-NIH and Department of Health and Human Services scientific and administrative committees, including the NIH Common Fund program, “Nutrition for Precision Health,” powered by the All of Us Research Program, the NIH Obesity Research Task Force, and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership.

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