Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Tips For Researching Medical Topics On The 'Net

While I work on my next lengthy article on antidepressant medication, I thought I would share my 10 best list of sources with the Blogosphere. 

  1. The most direct source of information in medical science is the original research.  The easiest way to access this resource -- one of the first places I go for such  information -- ishttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif Medline.  Medline is a database of titles and abstracts from literally hundreds of medical journals and other publications.  There are several front ends used to access Medline.  One of the best, Paperchase, is a subscription-only service.  If you have a medical license, or a nursing license, you can access Paperchase through the pdr.net site.  If not, you can use the free service at the National Library of Medicine, PubMed
  2. The NLM also has a meta-search engine  that will search simultaneously Medline, several online medical books, and some obscure databases such as Entrez Nucleotides.  The list of online textbooks is here
  3. In many cases, you have to pay to see the full text of the journal articles you find on Medline.  However, PubMed also has several full-text online journals.  The list of such journals is here.
  4. Those interested in either participating in, or learning about, current medical research trials can go here.  Although there is not a lot of specific information here, you can learn something about the newest approaches to treating certain conditions.  This can serve as a starting point if you have no idea of what you should even be looking for.
  5. News reports regarding the latest medical findings often can be found at Ivanhoe.  You get free access to the last seven days' articles.  Tip: if you see a title in the archives that looks interesting, try running a Google search on the title.  You may be able to view the cached version that way, without having to pay for it, or click through directly to the article. 
  6. What you find on Medline might be too technical, and what you find on Ivanhoe might be too simplistic.  Sometimes Medscape  offers a happy medium.  (free registration is required.)  Medscape often has summary reports of recent medical conferences.  They have pages they call Resource Centers, which are compilations of disease-specific information.  The Resource Centers are excellent starting points if you are just starting out.  Medscape also has a drug information service that is more complete, in some ways, than the PDR.  Of interest to some is the fact that they are starting some international sites.  So far, the only non-English sites are Spanish and Italian.
  7. The Doctor's Guide to the Internet  is like an RSS aggregator for medical news.  Most of it is highly technical, but they do have links to Continuing Medical Education (CME)  programs that you can view online.  These are not intended for a general audience, but at least the authors make an effort to explain what they are talking about.  If you register (free) you can set up a page with feeds (they call Channel Watch) pertaining to just about any medical topic you can think of. 
  8. Probably the best nontechnical website for medical information is WebMD.
  9. The AMA's news site is here.  This does not have a lot of technical stuff.  What is has, mostly,  is news about political and business aspects of medical practice. 
  10. Most of the major journals are online, but usually there are access limitations.  Some, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, and JAMA, give you free access to articles that are more than six months old.  Some give you free access to one or two selected titles in each issue.  Our old friend Yahoo has compiled a list  of medical journal that have websites.
  11. Pharma-Lexicon has compiled a list of medically-realted searches, such as medical dictionary, abbreviations, journal articles, and medical images, at Pharma-Lexicon
  12. Our government agencies often are a good source of objective information. The National Institutes of Health, and The National Institue of Mental Health, are good places to start. Another is The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Happy Hunting!