FAQs about Medical Literature

How do I search for medical information?

There is a wide variety of information available via the Internet, and this is the best place for a patient to lookup questions. But because the variety is so wide, it is easy to get distracted or lost in the details. It is also possible to get one opinion and not know how it fits into the bigger picture, or why that opinion might or might not apply to a particular question. All journals published in recent years have been indexing their articles on Pubmed and this is a fantastic place to look up papers written by experts in the field. You will be able to see an abstract of the paper and the conclusions. Most of the details of the paper and what is good and bad about the research are buried in the actual paper you won’t be able to read. To read the actual paper you should contact your library and get help from them to receive it. It helps to be very specific when searching Pubmed because the articles will be very numerous otherwise. And it is up to you, dear reader, to figure out which ones are useful and which ones are not. If you want to learn more about the topic in general, add the word “review” to your search, and you will find articles that “review” the topic, and which are more likely to guide a good general understanding.

After Pubmed, next best of the free searches is with Google. It is even harder there to figure out what is irrelevant, what is useless, and what is meant to make you buy something. Please read carefully there and bookmark things that look relevant. It is easier to search and bookmark and come back later to read it together than it is to just read as you go.

Another excellent source of review literature is the Cochrane Library which seeks to gather information into the best practices and summaries of numerous problems. Excellent instructions on how to use this service are on their site.

Posted in: Medical Literature

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