Monday, April 18, 2016

Health sciences (Medicine)


  • Basic medical sciences attempt to discover and describe how human body functions. Include:
    • Anatomy
    • Biochemistry
    • Biophysics
    • Embryology
    • Endocrinology
    • Genetics
    • Microbiology
    • Pathology
    • Pharmacology
    • Physiology
    • Psychology
  • Clinical medicine two broad specialities: preventative; public health
  • Many other medical specialities including
    • Dentistry
    • Nursing
    • Rehabilitation
  • Textbooks become reference books
  • Practitioners heavy users of handbooks
  • Use of handbooks especially heavy in pharmacology
  • Huge increase in popular medical literature
  • Growth in area of alternative medicine
  • The focus of traditional medical informatics is shifting from health professionals to consumers
Eysenbach, G. Consumer health informatics. BMJ 2000; 320: 1713-1716 http://www.bmj.com/content/320/7251/1713

Health information seeking studies


  • Licciardone, Smith-Barbaro, and Coleridge (2001)
    • 32% of respondents used Internet as primary source for health information
    • Other sources used: newspapers, magazines, TV
  • Fox, Rainie and Horrigan et al. (2000)
    • 55% of U.S. Internet users search for health info
    • 91% physical illness
    • 26% mental illness
    • Rely on search engines
    • 58% reported checking for company or organization providing info (likely some college)
    • Users with high school or less unlikely to check Web site’s source info
  • Taylor (2001) http://media.theharrispoll.com/documents/Harris-Interactive-Poll-Research-Cyberchondriacs-Update-2002-05.pdf
    • 80% of all adults who are online (i.e. 53% of all adults) sometimes use the Internet to look for health care information. However, only 18% say they do this “often”, while most do so “sometimes” (35%), or “hardly ever” (27%)
    • This 80% of all those online amounts to 110 million cyberchrondriacs nationwide. This compares with 54 million in 1998, 69 million in 1999 and 97 million last year.
    • On average those who ever look for health care information online do so three times every month
    • A slender majority (53%) of those who look for health care information does so using a portal or search engine which allows them to search for the health information they want across many different websites. About a quarter (26%) go directly to a site that focuses only on health-related topics and one in eight (12%) goes first to a general site that focuses on many topics that may have a section on health issues.
  • G. Eysenbach and C. Kohler. How do consumers search for and appraise health information on the world wide web? Qualitative study using focus groups, usability tests, and in-depth interviews. BMJ, March 9, 2002; 324 (7337): 573-577. http://bmj.com/cgi/content/full/324/7337/573
    • Users of the Internet explore only the first few links on general search engines when seeking health information
    • Consumers say that when assessing the credibility of a site they primarily look for the source, a professional design, and a variety of other criteria
    • In practice, internet users do not check the “about us” sections of websites, try to find out who authors or creators of owners of the site are, or read disclaimers or disclosure statements
    • Very few internet users later remember from which websites they retrieved information from or who stood behind the sites
  • Fox and Fallows (2003). http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2003/Internet-Health-Resources.aspx
    • Half of American adults have searched online for health information
    • Go online for information, prepare for appointments and surgery, share information, seek and provide support
    • Women primary consumers of online health information
  • Fox and Rainie (2002) . http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2002/Vital-Decisions-A-Pew-Internet-Health-Report.aspx
    • Internet health search interests
    • Disease information (93%)
    • Nutrition, exercise or weight control (65%)
    • Prescription drugs (64%)
    • 48% alternative or experimental treatments or medicines
    • 39% mental health issues (e.g. depression, anxiety)
    • 33% sensitive health topic
    • 32% info about a particular doctor or hospital
Consumer health information
National Library of Medicine reports:


  • Health information in top 5-10 topics of interest
  • 2/3 of libraries estimate that health requests account for up to 20% of reference requests
  • When MEDLINE made freely available on the Internet usage increased from 7 to 220 million searches per year (estimated that 1/3 of searches by public)
MEDLINEplus most frequent requested health topics, November 1999

  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Breast cancer
  • Kidney diseases
  • AIDS
  • Nutrition
  • Cancer
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Thyroid disease
  • Skin diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Cholesterol

Canadian Health Network (CHN)

  • National, bilingual Internet-based health information service
  • Developed in partnership with Health Canada
  • Network of health information networks (over 600 health information providers contribute resources)
  • Gathers and organizes quality information
Consumer Health Information Service (CHIS)

  • Based at Toronto Public Library, Reference Library
  • Funded by Ontario Ministry of Health
  • Walk in consumer reference collection and reference desk service by librarians
  • Offers phone, fax, and e-mail service to users throughout the province
  • Information packages compiled and sent out province-wide

Consumer & patient health information service https://web.archive.org/web/20050207083021/http://www.umanitoba.ca/libraries/units/health/reference/chis.shtml
To help Manitobans learn more about health and medical topics, the Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library offers the Consumer and Patient Health Information Service. This service provides information on health and medical topics such as:


  • Symptoms and descriptions of diseases
  • Drugs and drug therapies
  • Medical tests
  • Current treatments and therapies
  • Nutrition
  • Surgical procedures
  • A librarian, not a health care professional, provides the information
Abstracts and indexes

  • PubMed (free)
  • Medline (electronic)
    • most important indexing source for medical research
    • computerized counterpart of
      • Index Medicus
      • Index to Dental Literature
      • International Nursing Index
    • records added pre-1975 no abstracts
    • >59% records post-1975 have abstracts
  • EMBASE
    • print equivalent Excerpta Medica publications
    • more pharmacology and psychology, European and Asian journals than Medline
    • c. 80% of records from recent years contain abstracts
  • Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL)
    • covers English language nursing journals
    • includes such allied health fields as:
      • covers English language nursing journals
      • cardiopulmonary technology; medical/laboratory technology; medical records; occupational therapy; physical therapy/rehabilitation; radiologic technology; respiratory therapy; social service in health care
    • selective abstracts available since 1986

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