Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Link of the Week: MedlinePlus

Everyone has health issues. And we often want quick and reliable information on the web for our own health concerns, or those that relate to family and friends. One good portal for general web information in the area of medicine and health is MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health.

The site describes itself this way: "MedlinePlus will direct you to information to help answer health questions. MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. Preformulated MEDLINE searches are included in MedlinePlus and give easy access to medical journal articles. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news."

On most secondary pages, there will be tabs under the main banner that allow you to quickly jump to a variety of site areas including an Encyclopedia of (over 4000) basic health entries, and a Merriam Webster medical Dictionary. I find the extensive Health Topics presentation especially handy. And this website covers public health topics beyond classical medical conditions, too. To show the variety of subject areas and linked sites at MedicinePlus, take a look at their "Health Topics" page on Domestic Violence.

MedlinePlus can certainly be a useful source for "consumer" health information. But if you are researching a paper, don't forget that your teacher probably wants you to use scholarly (peer-reviewed) journal literature. Browse our database lists for these high-quality electronic indexes to journals, which often also provide full-text access to cited articles. The most appropriate database would vary according to your exact topic and the type of class you are doing research for.

Academic Search Premier is our best general academic database, covering major journals in everything from medicine to sociology. But we also have databases that look specifically at medicine. These include Health Reference Center Academic, Health Source--Consumer Edition, an Ebsco-produced version of Medline (the National Library Medicine's online journal index), a Stanford-based public-access biomedical database called HighWire, and several others.

Remember: When in doubt, ask a reference librarian for suggestions on the online tool that will best suit your research needs!

No comments: