Information for patients

Further to our last column about Google, what suggestions should you make to patients who want information on health concerns?
The patient can Google, of course, but it’s preferable to look at critically appraised high-quality resources such as STAT!Ref’s American Academy of Family Physicians’ Conditions A to Z (2007). This is available to the physician who has logged in to STAT!Ref and gone to the table of contents, but is also available to the patient at The information is clear and concise with the date created and the date reviewed or updated included. There is a place to click on a printer-friendly version or to e-mail the entry if the patient chooses.
For a Canadian slant, the patient has only to turn to the Canadian Health Network. The information on this web site is especially focused on health promotion and prevention and is available in both English and French. A printer-friendly version is available and a search can be limited to Canadian resources if desired.
MedlinePlus is a web site from the world’s largest medical library, the US National Library of Medicine. The site has sections on health topics, drugs and supplements, a medical encyclopedia, and dictionary entries as well as various directories, a news section, and other resources. MedlinePlus is designed to provide up-to-date, authoritative information for patients and health care providers, and it is updated daily.

If patients start their searches with one or more of these web sites, they can feel secure that the information will be both relevant and timely. Physicians should not hesitate to recommend them.

—Linda Clendenning
—Karen MacDonell
—Judy Neill

Linda Clendenning, Karen MacDonell, PhD, MLIS, Judy Neill. Information for patients. BCMJ, Vol. 49, No. 9, November, 2007, Page(s) 508 - 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

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

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