Monday, January 30, 2012

Finding the Facts When Your Health Is In Question

According to a Pew Research Survey, 83% of internet users have looked for health information on the internet. What that statistic doesn't tell you is how many of those 83% actually found the information they needed.

Doctors are known for keeping their cool, but the phrase, "I read on the internet that..." is almost guaranteed to make your doctor shudder. There is a lot of misinformation about health on the internet, and when your wellness is on the line it is critical that you have access to facts, not fiction.

So how can you find the health information that you need?

1. Start at for an overview. The consumer health information provided by the National Institutes of Health is constantly reviewed to make sure it is up to date and accurate. The information you find at NIH may not answer all of your questions, but it is a good place to start, and can often give you other keywords you can use in your search that describe the medicine or medical condition you are researching.

2. Use your library databases. The Terrebonne Parish Library subscribes to several health related databases you can access from any computer with internet access and your library card number. That gives you an easy way to search thousands of trusted health journals, including many that your doctors read to keep up with the latest research.
  • Consumer Health Complete offers good introductory material. Like the NIH consumer material, you can find easy to understand descriptions and other useful keywords to use in your searches.
  • Health Source - Consumer Edition also offers health information in plain English. Here you will find nearly 80 full text, consumer health magazines with information on many topics including the medical sciences, food sciences and nutrition, childcare, sports medicine and general health.
  • Health Source - Nursing/Academic Edition allows you access to 550 scholarly full text medical journals, and access to the Lexi-PAL Drug Guide, which includes 1,300 generic drug patient education sheets for more than 4,700 brand name prescriptions.
  • AltHealthWatch can help you find information on alternative and complementary therapies, with full text articles from more than 180 international, often peer-reviewed, journals and reports. In addition, there are hundreds of pamphlets, booklets, special reports, original research and book excerpts.
3. Turn to trusted health organizations. For every aspect of health and every medical condition, there is a non-profit dedicated to finding and distributing the best health information in that field. For example, the American Cancer Society web site,, has a wealth of doctor and patient reviewed material on cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as related topics like pain management, quality of life, and nutrition.

The Cochrane Collaboration, another trustworthy source, is an independent organization that reviews the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of medical treatments, both mainstream and alternative. On the web at you can search free summaries of their reports.

For links to all fourteen of our health databases and a complete overview of some of the best health related information available to you through the Terrebonne Parish Library on the net and in print, see our subject guide at

Your library reference team is also available to help you find trustworthy sources and information on health and any other research topic you may have. Call us at (985) 876-5861, option 2, or email

Image Credit:
Molly Zisk. Health Hazards of Sitting. Orange County Register, Jan. 16, 2012. Copyright (c) 2012 Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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