Seeking reliable health information on the Internet can be a daunting task for newly diagnosed patients and family caregivers.
This article provides some guidance to anyone contemplating conducting an Internet search for Health Information. An invitation is extended to contact the El Camino Hospital Health Library & Resource Center (HLRC) for a free expert consultation to assist you in obtaining the information you need to better address your specific situation.
When beginning your search, it is important to obtain the exact name of the condition, procedure, or drug you that relates to your diagnosis. Discuss this with your healthcare provider and make sure you understand the feedback they have provided. Do not be afraid to ask questions. The Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) has developed tools to help patients and family members achieve better communication with their healthcare providers. The HLRC Librarians can help you access these useful tools.
The Internet is easy to search but the delivered results can be frustrating. You may receive many more results than you have time to review, you may obtain very few results, or the results you returned may be unrelated to your search. The Internet can provide the answers you require; but it also contains large amounts of inaccurate statements, outdated information, non-verified information, and sites designed to sell you products or services you do not need or want.
Evaluating the reliability of retrieved information is essential. You will need to familiarize yourself with website evaluation techniques. Asking a series of questions can help you decide if a particular website should be trusted to provide accurate current healthcare information. The following websites can help you learn about website evaluation:
I would suggest starting your search at MedlinePlus.
MedlinePlus is produced by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The site is designed for the lay public and is a portal that links content from many reliable sources on specific health topics. The site also contains a Drug Lookup Tool and a Directory of Health Organizations. It is essential to examine multiple high quality health websites and compare results to ensure you are obtaining the information you require. Also consider joining a support group. Members are often aware of the latest medical innovations and are eager to share knowledge about a disease or condition they have acquired. You can then take this information and conduct your own inquiry.
Please do not become frustrated if you are unable to obtain the information you need. Contact the professional Librarians at the El Camino Hospital Health Library & Resource Center. Services are FREE & AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.
Library staff can assist you by:
- Conducting searches for you & sending you the results
- Helping you plan and conduct your own research
- Retrieve complete full text copies of articles and documents
- Providing Eldercare Resource Referrals & Support Group Information
- Access to hundreds of consumer friendly books & newsletters
- Providing Information on Drugs & Procedures
- Medicare Insurance Counseling provided by trained HICAP Volunteers
- Information on Road Runners Transportation service
Please contact us in person, by phone or email:
Health Library & Resource Center
Karen Halverson, Senior Librarian
2500 Grant Road
Mountain View, CA. 94040
Health Library & Resource Center Los Gatos Branch
Mike Liddicoat, Senior Librarian
815 Pollard Road
Los Gatos, CA. 94040
This article first appeared in the HealthPerks June 2017 newsletter and the Summer 2017 issue of Chinese Health Initiative Wellness eNewsletter. Learn more about the Chinese Health Initiative.