October 19, 2008

Searching for Reliable Medical Information Online

My medical librarian buddy David Rothman created a nifty Web search box that "searches authoritative and trusted consumer health information and patient education resources recommended by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and/or by CAPHIS (the Consumer and Patient Health Information Section of the Medical Library Association)." It's techically a Google Custom Search Engine (CSE),which is a nifty opportunity to create a Google search box that searches only web sites you select.

CAPHIS maintains a page on how to evaluate health infomation, which is useful, and it also lists some of the web sites they recommend. They also list the Top 100 Health Websites You Can Trust.

I've used David's search box for my own medical searching -- I was scrolling through commercial and vaguely unreliable results thinking "hmmm, there's got to be a way to search reliable health information on the Web. Then I remembered David's search engine and tried it with great success. I was happy to easily search medical sites that I know are reputable -- like medlineplus, the mayo clinic, and others. The search looks & works like Google, but it only searches those trusted sites.

For my CogSciLibrarian readers, I thought I would search some of the health-related topics that I've blogged about, such as
  • diabetes: see results from Medline and MedlinePlus, the CDC, the Harvard diabetes center, the Mayo Clinic, and familydoctor.org (the American Academy of Family Physicians). Not surprisingly, there are few results for feline diabetes, since the search engine is focused on human health.
  • vision therapy: see results from Medscape/WebMD, HealthCentral, MedHelp, and more.
  • concussion: see results from kidshealth.org (created by The Nemours Foundation's Center for Children's Health Media) and an interesting article by the CDC about their campaign with the Seattle Seahawks & the Brain Injury Association of Washington to help prevent young athletes from sustaining concussions, and information from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Of course, there are terrific library resources for consumer health as well, such as:
  • Alt HealthWatch (from EBSCO) - the "alt" stands for "alternative & complementary"
  • Health and Wellness Resource Center and Alternative Health Module (from Cengage Gale)
  • Health Reference Center Academic (from Cengage Gale)
  • Health Source Consumer Edition (from EBSCO)
... and many more ... ask a librarian for assistance!

So ... if you or someone you know is doing consumer health research, check out David's Consumer Health and Patient Education Information Search Engine and browse the list of trustworthy general health web sites, or head to your local public library.

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