The National Library of Medicine is the world's largest medical library. Through the Web, at www.nlm.nih.gov some 750 million searches of MEDLINE are done each year by health professionals, scientists, librarians, and the public. Materials of special note for the clinician include:
- PubMed, a database of over 16 million citations from some 4,500 biomedical journals (see below)
- PubMed Central, a digital archive of life sciences journal literature
- ClinicalTrials.gov, which allows for easy access to information on clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions
- MEDLINEplus, a patient health resource providing authoritative and up-to-date medical information for the consumer.
All National Library of Medicine databases is free.
PubMed provides access to bibliographic information that includes MEDLINE, the National Library of Medicine's premier bibliographic database covering the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, and the preclinical sciences. MEDLINE contains bibliographic citations and author abstracts from more than 4,800 biomedical journals published in the U.S. and 70 other countries. The database includes over 14 million citations dating from the mid-1960s.
The mission of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) is to:
- Advance the progress of medicine and improve public health by providing all U.S. health professionals with equal access to biomedical information, and
- Improve the public's access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health.
The program is coordinated by the National Library of Medicine and carried out through a nationwide network of health science libraries and information centers.
The National Guidelines Clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This searchable database provides evidence-based clinical guidelines. Additionally, the site includes links to updates to guidelines, based on recommendations of relevant professional organizations, current information from the Healthy People 2010 project, and updates from the 2005 National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR, including the State Resources and the 2005 National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR). To access these resources, visit www.guidelines.gov.
The mission of the Community Health Association of Mountain/Plains States (CHAMPS) is to provide a coordinating structure of service to community health centers and primary care associations in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
CHAMPS has compiled several resources to support clinicians in accessing appropriate guidelines for treating their patients. In addition to evidence-based clinical guidelines, links offered on the CHAMPS site include preventive medicine procedures posters and patient education tools. You can access these links at www.champsonline.org/tools/ClinicalResources/default.asp
Health Information Literacy
According to the American Medical Association, health literacy is "the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment." People from all walks of life may encounter challenges in this regard. Listed below are several resources designed to help health care providers assist their patients in accessing and understanding the information they need to support good health: