High-quality health information

“I understand what you’re saying… I just can’t remember it when I get home.”

In stressful situations, and clinical encounters are often stressful for patients, even the most attentive will miss some key information. Since modern medical practice is increasingly a partnership between clinician and patient, discussion and understanding are crucial. High-quality consumer health resources, both in print and online, help busy clinicians and patients stay on the same page. 

The library section of the College website (www.cpsbc.ca) provides a suggested list under “Patient Information,” including local organizations like HealthLinkBC and Vancouver Coastal Health. These sites have extensive collections of topics, and not only do they give a local perspective, they come in a number of languages. 

Another free, authoritative, multi-language site, supported by the US National Institutes of Health, is MedlinePlus. This site includes information on drugs, alternative medicine, and many other topics; tutorials; and links to other reliable sources. 

For patient leaflets and handouts, phy­sicians may go to the American Aca­demy of Family Physicians’ FamilyDoctor.org website or log in to MD Con­sult or AccessMedicine. MD Consult has the added benefit of allowing clinicians to customize pamphlets to include the physician’s name, address, and additional patient instructions.

Your patients may prefer to do their own Internet searching for health information. To help them evaluate the quality of a site, a useful guide is to look for the Health on the Net symbol on the site’s home page. This symbol indicates that the site follows the quality-control guidelines developed by the HON Foundation, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization founded to ensure ethical standards for on­line medical information. HON certification is another way to differentiate between good quality sites and those with strictly commercial motives.
—Karen MacDonell
—Robert Melrose
—Judy Neill
Library Co-managers

This article is the opinion of the Library of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.

Karen MacDonell, PhD, MLIS, Robert Melrose, Judy Neill. High-quality health information. BCMJ, Vol. 54, No. 2, March, 2012, Page(s) 93 - College Library.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply