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HOW TO LOCATE CURRENT  INFORMATION

ON A DISEASE OR DISORDER


Background Information
Finding Research ArticlesUsing Pubmed
Obtaining Articles
Clinical Trials
Drug Information
Research in the News

Locating General Information

Before you begin your search, you may want to read background information on the disease or disorder, especially if you have a recent diagnosis.  If you are looking for general information on a disease or disorder and you want to learn about  symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and  prognosis several good places to start are:

MedlinePlus
This database from the National Library of Medicine contains information on over 700 diseases and medical conditions written for the consumer.  It also includes a medical dictionary, an encyclopedia, and a drug information section. Before you use MedlinePlus, try taking a quick tour

Merck Manual - Second Home edition
A general guide for consumers on diseases and their treatments, women's, men's and children's  health, and accidents and injuries. Excellent overviews of many diseases and medical conditions and special sections on decision making, preparing for and recovering from surgery, complementary and alternative therapies, anatomical drawings, and travel health. Full-text version of the print edition.

Cancer.gov
An authoritative source of comprehensive background information for patients and health professionals about cancer prevention, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. Published by the National Cancer Institute, this database includes summaries of state of the art treatment protocols from the Physician Data Query (PDQ) database.


You may also want to consider using Healthnet's select list of Internet resources .  First look at some of the sites under the categories  "Diseases,medical conditions - General" and "Diseases and medical conditions - Specific".  These are either general sites that include information on many different diseases or they are sites devoted to a specific disease, such as arthritis.

Finding Medical Research Articles

For the beginner, the best place to find research related articles on a medical topic, particularly a disease or disorder, is to use  MedlinePlus.  There are over 700 health topics and a link is provided to a related search of medical journal articles from PubMed, the MEDLINE database published by the National Library of Medicine. The searches are programmed to request lists of articles on your topic of interest that are no more than six months to two years old.  Currency of available articles varies by topic.  Not all medical disorders may have these links to Medline articles.  Also, remember that Medline is not a full-text database, so you will only get a summary of the article, not  the full-text. The majority of the article summaries are written in technical language.

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Searching the Medline Database Using PubMed

If you don't find what you're looking for in MedlinePlus and the other resources listed above, consider using  PubMed  to search the MEDLINE database.   MEDLINE is  the premier medical and scientific database produced by the National Library of Medicine. It has references to more than 17 million articles from 5000 medical and scientific journals published in the United States and 80 other countries. When you search MEDLINE you will find information on articles on your topic (the author, title of the article, name of the journal, date published, page numbers).  Over 75% of the listings have short summaries of the articles (abstracts).

It's important to note that MEDLINE is not the best place to find general information about diseases and disorders.  However, it is a invaluable resource for locating the most up to date treatment information . Also, remember that since the articles are written for medical doctors and researchers they are very technical.

An introductory National Library of Medicine PubMed tutorial is available online.

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Obtaining Copies of Medical Journal Articles

You have several options for obtaining copies of medical journal articles:

You can visit the Health Center Library and make a copy of the article for a small fee. If you don't live in Connecticut, you can contact a nearby medical center library and ask about their use policies. For a list of medical libraries that serve consumers/patients, look at the listing of consumer health libraries in MedlinePlus .

If you live in Connecticut, you can contact the Health Center Library's Interlibrary Loan Department  and establish an agreement with the Library to provide you with journal articles.  This service is called Loansome Doc. When you are doing a search in PubMed, the Order feature will allow you to order individual articles online if you have set up a Loansome Doc Service agreement with a medical library.There is a fee for this service.  Contact the Health Center Library Interlibrary Loan Department at 860/679-2940 to learn the details about Loansome Doc.  You may also find details about this service online .

If you live outside of Connecticut and you need assistance obtaining medical journal articles or general assistance with your search, contact the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) at 800-338-7657 or visit  their website explanation of  Lonesome Doc.

You may also contact your local public library and ask that they obtain the articles for you. There may be a fee and/or restrictions for this service.

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Finding Clinical Research Trials

A clinical trial is a research study to answer specific questions about vaccines or new therapies or new ways of using known treatments. Clinical trials (also called medical research and research studies) are used to determine whether new drugs or treatments are both safe and effective. Carefully conducted clinical trials are the fastest and safest way to find treatments that work.

ClinicalTrials

Sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, this database is designed to give patients and their families information about research studies currently evaluating treatment for a variety of diseases. The more than 41,000 clinical trials listed are mainly ones being conducted by the National Institutes of Health or under its sponsorship. The database also includes trials conducted by other federal agencies and pharmaceutical companies.  Another feature has information that explains clinical trials, the benefits and risks of participating, and how to become a participant.

Centerwatch Clinical Trials Listing Service

This commercial site provides information on clinical trials for twenty disease categories. It includes profiles of research centers conducting clinical trials and profiles of companies that provide a variety of  contract services to the clinical trials industry (under "Site Identification Services").  This website also includes  industry and government sponsored clinical trials and information about new drugs recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, organized by type of therapy.

You can complete an online form that initiates a service that notifies you of new clinical trials. 

CancerTrials

This site from the National Cancer Institute allows you to search for information on 5,000 current research studies on cancer. The website defines clinicals trials, discusses how to search for studies, and how to participate. It emphasizes that no single resource, including the National Cancer Institute's PDQ (Physician Data Query) database,  lists every cancer clinical trial. PDQ, however, is the most comprehensive resource for cancer clinical trials.

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Information About Drugs

The following sites contain basic information about drugs that may be used to treat diseases and medical conditions:

 MedlinePlus Drug Information

Prescription and over-the-counter medication information from "MedMaster", a product of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Profiles of more than 9,000 prescription and over the counter drugs  with information on approved uses for the drug, proper use of the drug, precautions while using the drug, and side effects. Includes descriptive and evaluative information about herbs and supplements from the Natural Standard database.

 PDR Health

Prescription and over-the-counter drug information written for the consumer from the publishers of the popular "Physicians' Desk Reference" (PDR).  Information about herbal medicines and nutritional supplements are included. 

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Finding Recent Drug Approvals

Centerwatch Clinical Trials Listing Service

This website includes information on drug products currently under investigation, arranged by disease category. Entries give brief descriptions of research and contact information.  There is a listing of FDA drug approvals (select "Drug directories") , guidelines to help individuals decide whether to participate in a study, and general information on how drugs are studied. There are some paid advertisements on the website.

Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration

A source of reliable information about new and generic drug approvals.

Select "Drugs@FDA" for a searchable index to approved drugs and for Drug Approval Reports by month. Medical product safety information is also available on the FDA website. The website includes an Index to Drug-Specific Information page.

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Finding Current Research in News Sources

Online news sources are often one of the best ways to find information about current research.  Usually, news releases on new research are sent to different media venues and you’ll often find the same information reported on the evening news and published in a newspaper article.  The following are several of the best news sources for up-to-date research information:

Current Medical News Sources

 This list, developed by Healthnet: Connecticut Consumer Health Information Network, has links to several high quality and reliable sites that offer current medical news.  There are links to several online articles with tips on understanding popular medical information and understanding the concept of risk often discussed in medical research articles. Several of the sites listed offer a free service to deliver up-to-date medical news to your email address.

 HealthDay

A collection of health related stories from worldwide newspapers and television stations. Between 8 and 10 new stories appear each day. Stories remain on the site for a year and can be searched by keyword, topic, and category. A clinical trials update alerts readers to new research studies recruiting participants.

Reutershealth

A comprehensive, reliable, source of daily medical news for the consumer (free) and for the professional (subscription fee).  Click on “More Stories” at the bottom of each day’s article listing to access the entire list of articles for that day. Articles often include a citation to the medical journal article in which the news originated.  Although the site is searchable by keyword, only paid subscribers to the professional section of the website can view the entire text of the medical journal articles.

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