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Places to Visit on the Net

By John Hunter

“If I had known I would live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself,” observed W.C. Fields. That’s what most of us wind up thinking as the cumulative effects of age and bad habits shape the way we live.

Most of us are able to cope with the minor aches and pains we encounter without much difficulty. But some of us require medical advice to help us cope with more major problems. The web provides a bazillion sites that offer medical information help–but some sites are better than others. If you need medical information, here are some sites to explore.

As you might expect, the U.S. government leads the list in providing consumer medical information at www.healthfinder.gov. This site provides a gateway for consumers, “to improve consumer access to selected health information from government agencies…and other reliable sources that serve the public interest.”

The homepage for this site offers a menu of menus: health library, just for you, health care, and directory of healthfinder®organizations. Click on the library and up comes information by topic: prevention & wellness; diseases & conditions; alternative medicine; and featured topics. Or you can click on special resources and find: databases; FAQs; medical dictionaries; health and medical journals; medical encyclopedia; national health observances; online checkups; prescription drug information; public libraries; and quality of health information.

Click again on databases and you will find lists of databases from A to W. Just for the fun of it I clicked on M. Up came databases for Macular Degeneration, Malignant Neoplasm, Mammography, Massage Therapy, Medical Devices… and so forth. You get the idea. The site provides all this in Spanish as well as English and is easy to navigate.

Another site to look at is www.healthweb.org. This is a site developed by librarians and information professionals from midwestern medical institutions. The homepage for this site provides a list from Aids & HIV to veterinary medicine and women’s health. The site also provides a user guide to help investigators use Internet resources more effectively.

A click on rheumatology and you find general resources, discussion groups, educational resources, and electronic journals. You can also type in a specific term and do a key word search of the entire Healthweb database or limit the search to rheumatology only.

A third site is the ubiquitous medical site at www.cdc.gov, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We have been to this site on other occasions and find it comprehensive and easy to use.
A fourth site can be found at www.hivinsite.ucsf.edu/. This is a project of the University of California at San Francisco AIDS Research Institute. This is a gateway to information about particular aspects of HIV/AIDS and provides links to many authoritative sources. Subjects are arranged by key topics and the site may also be searched by key words.

The Mayo Clinic provides the next site at www.mayoclinic.com. This site includes interactive tools to help consumers manage their health. You can also sign up for a free e-newsletter. This month’s newsletter begins with “Boning up on back to school health.”

Still another site to investigate is www.medlineplus.gov. This site is a consumer oriented Web site established by the National Library of Medicine, the world's largest biomedical library and creator of the MEDLINE database.

The homepage for this site provides 600 health topics; drug information; a medical encyclopedia; a medical dictionary; health news from the past 30 days; directories of doctors, dentists and hospitals; and other resources such as local libraries, health organizations and more.

This month the site also features information on healthy web surfing, and an article on evaluating health information. You can also access more than 165 interactive tutorials, information about clinical trials, and National Institute of Health “SeniorHealth” information.

If you are interested in cancer related information, try www.oncolink.upenn.edu. This University of Pennsylvania site provides information on various forms of cancer as well as issues of interest to cancer patients and their families. The site may be searched by key word or by menus. Several menus include: disease-oriented menus and medical specialty-oriented menus. Major areas covered include: cancer causes, symptom management, clinical trials, psychosocial support, cancer FAQs, and global resources.

Several other medical information sources to consider include www.medem.com. This site is a project of several medical societies including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. WWW.4women.gov is a gateway to selected women’s health information. The site provides information in Spanish as well as English. An alphabetical health topics menu simplifies searches. The New York Online Access to Health site at www.noah-health.org is a collection of state, local and federal health resources.
Until next month . . .

John M. Hunter

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October 5, 2003