PubMed Health Points to “What Works” in Medicine

Here comes a special new information product from the U.S. National Library of Medicine called PubMed Health.

What exactly is this website? Is it a consumer version of PubMed – the world’s largest biomedical database? Is it a version of MedlinePlus – NLM’s trusted source of consumer health information?

Is PubMed Health a combination of both?

The truth is: PubMed Health is something rather new. I can’t think of any source of information about human health that is quite like it – except perhaps the Cochrane Collaboration’s consumer summaries.

In fact, PubMed Health has partnered with Cochrane and the following groups:

  • Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (US) (AHRQ)
  • The Cochrane Collaboration (CC)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs’ Evidence-based Synthesis Program from the Veterans Health Administration R&D (VA ESP)
  • England’s Behind the Headlines service is from the National Health Service (NHS Choices).
  • German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG)
  • National Health Service (NHS) National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment Programme (NIHR HTA)
  • National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines program (NICE)
  • Oregon Health and Science University’s Drug Effectiveness Review Project (DERP)

I’d describe PubMed Health as a metasearch tool that gathers evidence from the above sites to see clinical studies and “what works” in human health. Searchers can locate systematic reviews of clinical trials – in other words, clinical effectiveness reviews to show what treatments work and what is unknown – and other syntheses of medical knowledge.

One major benefit of PubMed Health (which might make it popular) is that any search performed on PubMed Health also runs in PubMed. A filter is used to identify articles that might be systematic reviews. It includes articles from before 2003.

If that weren’t enough PubMed Health uses a medical encyclopedia and medication information from A.D.A.M. Education and the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists.

3 thoughts on “PubMed Health Points to “What Works” in Medicine

  1. PubMed had a mysterious appearance several months ago ( http://bit.ly/pxRVX7) and many librarians have discussed the features and possible applications. The interesting thing is the recent changes to PubMed Health, which were finally officially announced ( http://bit.ly/psszE2) . It seems the comparative effectiveness has been scaled back (down) to a lower health literacy. It is great for consumers but I was hoping this would be an in-depth resource for clinicians gathering EBM as part of the Meaningful Use requirements. If it will be more directed to consumers then IMO more hyperlinks to the Medline Plus encyclopedia, and dictionary are desperately needed. The information available now can be confusing, especially for those clicking on the first link in Google for disease and medication information (usually the first link is PubMed Health but Google results vary by user). We shall see what happens as this resource continues to develop.

    Great to hear a librarian’s view from outside the states. I know I’ve been hung up on the communication (or lack of) about PubMed Health that I forget it is a great resource.

    ~Alisha

  2. PubMed had a mysterious appearance several months ago ( http://bit.ly/pxRVX7) and many librarians have discussed the features and possible applications. The interesting thing is the recent changes to PubMed Health, which were finally officially announced ( http://bit.ly/psszE2) . It seems the comparative effectiveness has been scaled back (down) to a lower health literacy. It is great for consumers but I was hoping this would be an in-depth resource for clinicians gathering EBM as part of the Meaningful Use requirements. If it will be more directed to consumers then IMO more hyperlinks to the Medline Plus encyclopedia, and dictionary are desperately needed. The information can be confusing especially for many clinging on the first Google link for medications and diseases (the first link is often PubMed Health but this varies by user). We shall see what happens as this resource continues to develop.

    Great to hear a librarian’s view from outside the states. I know I’ve been hung up on the communication (or lack of) about PubMed Health that I forget it is a great resource.

    ~Alisha

  3. Alisha,
    Thank you for your cameo here at Search Principle blog. I agree with you that there have been unanswered questions about PubMed Health since it went into beta. I’m looking at it now as less a tool for one group over another and more for anyone who may need to find an easier way into the medical research or, as PMH says, “what works” in clinical care. It’s another arrow in the quiver, as it were.

    Cheers,
    Dean

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