Lyman Maynard Stowe Library
University of Connecticut Health Center

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- Rise in asthma cases - cause for concern!
- Privacy on the Internet . . . a dangerous illusion?
- Full-text Merck Home Edition now available  online
- Disability . . . ability . . . information
- Important information for pain sufferers
- More information about doctors and other health care providers
-Recently published consumer health books:
    *Brain disorders sourcebook
    *Complete self-care guide to holistic medicine
    *Inside chiropractic : a patient's guide
    *Mayo Clinic heart book
    *The People's Pharmacy guide to home and herbal remedies
    *Second opinion : the Columbia Presbyterian guide to surgery
    *Your child in the hospital : a practical guide for parents
   *Best alternative medicine.  What works.  What does not.



Asthma, a chronic respiratory disease often caused by allergies,  is characterized by attacks of labored breathing, coughing, and chest constriction. Asthma occurs in both children and adults and crosses racial and economic lines, although a disproportionate number of cases can be found in inner-city, poor populations.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that asthma cases have more than doubled since 1980, with about 17.3 million adults and children currently affected by the disease.

Rosalind Dudden, medical librarian at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, Colorado, has compiled a list of recommended books, magazines, newsletters, videos, and web sites to help librarians and consumers find authoritative information on allergies and asthma.  National Jewish is a world-renowned facility that specializes in the treatment and study of respiratory and allergic diseases (

This helpful guide to resources lists 20 medical reference texts, allergy books,  asthma books, resources on the asthmatic/allergic child , 4 newsletters and magazines,  3 videos, and 12 web sites.  Each entry has a brief annotation and  core titles are indicated by a star.  Dudden also briefly describes  selection criteria and tools for building a collection on the subject.

Dudden R.  Allergies & asthma : nothing to sneeze at! Library Journal  2000 January : 55-58.

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A recent study conducted by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Internet Healthcare Coalition  found that seventy-five percent of those seeking health information on the Internet are concerned or ‘very concerned’ about the sites with which they’ve registered sharing their personal health information.  According to the study, individuals who use the Internet for health information have good reason to be concerned.

The study looked at twenty-one health  sites and analyzed whether their actual practices reflected  stated privacy policies.   Sites were selected to represent a mix of the most popular,  those where pharmaceuticals and health products may be researched and purchased, general search engines and portals with high traffic, and sites that targeted a specific group. Sites examined included drKoop, Mayohealth,  Oncolink, Intelihealth, CVS, WebMd,  iVillage, and Health Central. Each privacy policy was reviewed and measured against a set of “fair information practice principles”.  Reviewers then visited the site and while behaving like a typical consumer observed and captured what happened to the data that was submitted.

While all of the sites had stated privacy policies, the study found that health web sites are not anonymous, even if they think they are.  Although the sites recognize consumer’s concerns about the privacy of their personal health information and have established  privacy  policies, these policies  fall  short  of  their  intended  goal.   Sites  often  do not  disclose  that  personally identified information is collected by third parties through the use of cookies and banner advertisements.  Though well intentioned, many sites do not have adequate security to protect information from hackers or someone actively seeking to access company databases.

An executive summary and a complete report of the survey along with individual site review charts may be found at  their web site.   Think twice, then, about sharing any personal information about yourself when visiting a health web site.


Merck  has added the full-text of the Merck Manual Home Edition to their  web site.    Previously only selected sections were available online.  The Home Edition now joins Merck’s other full-text online publications – the Merck Manual of Medical Information and the Merck Manual of Geriatrics.

DISABILITY  . . . ABILITY . . . INFORMATION                                                     

Disability Resources Monthly (DRM) is a nonprofit organization established to promote and improve awareness, availability and accessibility of information that can help people with disabilities live, learn, love, work and play independently.  DRM’s web site –  A Guide to Disability Resources on the Internet -  is a comprehensive one-stop source for disability related information on the web.  The site includes links to information on specific types of disabilities, accessible housing, employment, sports and recreation, educational laws and issues, assistive technology, the Americans With Disabilities Act, travel and transportation, and financial information.

The DRM WebWatcher is a subject guide to the best disability resources on the Internet. To find disability resources about a particular subject or disability, you can view the complete subject index,  use their quicker loading alphabetic indices, or use their search engine. Each topic or disability page includes links to the best web sites, documents, databases, and other informational materials of national or international interest.

A regional resource directory (select “States”) lists disability related resources for individual states with links to the agency’s or organization’s web site.  The Directory for Connecticut includes information on 24 agencies and organizations such as the Disability Resource Center of Fairfield County, the Connecticut Department of  Social Services, the Brain Injury Association of Connecticut, and the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation.  The directory  doesn’t appear to be a comprehensive listing, but perhaps DRM will add additional Connecticut links as they improve their site.

DRM also has several publications available for sale.  One is the Disability Resources Monthly, a newsletter that reports on resources to help people with disabilities live independently. Each issue features short topical articles, reviews, and news about free, inexpensive, and hard-to-find books, pamphlets, videotapes, online sources, and organizations.  The newsletter is available by subscription for $30.00 per year.  The tables of contents for past issues are available online and a sample issue may be requested via email.  Other publications include a parent advocacy guide, resources on spinal injury, and disability resource packets.  A mail-in order form for these publications is included on the site.


The  American Academy of Pain Management  – is the largest multidisciplinary pain society and  largest physician based pain society in the United States. The Academy is a nonprofit    multidisciplinary credentialing society for practitioners in the area of pain management.  Members of the Academy are from many different fields including physical medicine and rehabilitation, podiatry, nursing, internal medicine, anesthesiology, psychiatry, dentistry, and chiropractic.  The Academy is also an accrediting body for pain management programs.

The AAPM’s web site has two  features of interest to those who are suffering from chronic pain.  A directory of pain management programs provides the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of these programs  in the user’s geographic area.  Searches may be made as general or as specific as the user wishes according to a zip code entry.

Another directory is a listing of members of the AAPM.  A short list of related links provides access to additional pain management resources on the web.   Resources for professionals include a national pain data bank that provides graphs showing the efficacy of different treatments for specific types of pain.  This area of the site is still in development.  Use of this feature requires downloading a Java plug-in.


Finding information that rates doctors and other health care providers is often difficult and usually impossible. Several print resources are currently available but they have their limits -  one is currently out of print and becoming dated (Guide to top doctors; Center for the Study of Services, 1999; Best doctors in the United States : Northeast edition; Woodward and White, 1995; op). Online sources are beginning to offer some of this important information, but because most are still very new, the information they have is limited.

 Health Pages is an online consumer health care service that offers information on general health care topics and community-specific comparative information on physicians, hospitals, allied health professionals and health plans.  Their database of physicians currently contains over 500,000 physicians.  Health Pages also incorporates the provider directories of over 300 managed care plans.

Health Pages data comes from a variety of sources, including state departments of health and insurance, federal and state health data organizations, and professional licensing boards.  They receive provider directories from over 300 managed care plans and survey hospitals, physicians, and health plans.  Health Pages claims that they verify their data through multiple check points and validate physician updates through a security code procedure.

Health care provider information includes physicians, dentists, hospitals, health plans, maternity services, and mammography clinics.   Searches may be restricted to an individual state.  A search for physicians may be limited by specialty, geographic location, managed care plan affiliation, and then further limited according to gender, board certification, and years in practice.  Limits may also be applied to searches for other provider information. For instance, a search for hospitals may be limited by geographic area or size and health care plans may be limited by cost.

An interesting feature allows patients to send in comments to rate their individual health care providers.  The hospital section even affords patients the opportunity to rate the food.  Although this rating feature is available, it doesn’t appear that patients are sending in their comments since a review of  most hospitals and many physicians in Connecticut did not show any patient comments.

This is a relatively new site and one in which there’s  plenty of room for growth.  It’s similar in content to  Health Grades  which also currently covers nursing homes and has plans to include home health agencies and ambulatory surgical centers.

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The following books may be of interest to public and health sciences libraries.  They are not part of the UCHC Library collection.

Brain disorders sourcebook.  Robert S. Cicala.  Lowell House, 1999.  421 p.   (ISBN 0-7377-0093-0), $19.95 pap.

Written by a physician who is medical director of the Methodist Comprehensive Pain Institute at the University of Tennessee, this is a comprehensive easy-to-understand guide to the function of the brain and the disorders that affect it.  Dr. Cicala acknowledges the special fear associated with brain disorders because, as he states, “…[brain disorders] truly affect “us”.  They may change the way we think, remember, or handle our emotions.  They can even alter our personality”.

Cicala begins with a thorough description of the anatomy of the brain and how it functions so that readers can understand the ensuing explanations of what can go wrong.  In a separate chapter he describes tests used to diagnose brain disorders and discusses which are the most appropriate in specific circumstances.  He then offers complete descriptions of  stroke and vascular diseases of the brain, brain tumors, and neurologic diseases , such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. He describes symptoms and diagnosis, treatments,  surgery, rehabilitation, and long-term outlook.

Appendices include  directories of national support groups and research institutes for the disorders discussed.  An informative book for patients and family members with helpful advice on medical options and where to turn to support.

The complete  self-care guide to holistic medicine : treating our  most  common ailments.  Robert S. Ivker.  Jeremy Tarcher, 1999.  502 p.  (ISBN 0-87477-986-3), $27.50.

Holistic medicine can best be described as a philosophy of medicine in which the practitioner considers the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of the patient in diagnosing and treating disease and in promoting optimal health.  Ivker, an osteopath and president of the American  Holistic Medical Association, has brought together information on both complementary and traditional therapies to help the individual treat many common acute and chronic illnesses at home and improve health at all levels.

Ivker begins by presenting  an overview of the basic principles of holistic medicine. He includes a questionnaire to help readers gauge how well they are doing in their life with respect to body, mind, and spirit.  He describes how to achieve a solid foundation for optimal health through the proper use of diet, nutritional supplements, herbs, physical exercise, and activity.  Practical methods to use on a daily basis to achieve the goal of improved mental and spiritual health are also offered.  These include guided imagery and visualization, meditation, breathwork, and keeping a journal.

In “A self-care guide for treating disease conditions holistically”, Ivker describes self-care approaches to treating over 60 conditions, ranging from alcoholism and addiction to sciatia and sinusitis.  Each condition is addressed from the perspective of body, mind, and spirit and treatment options are offered to either improve the condition, cure it, or prevent it from recurring. Information is given on the prevalence of the condition, the anatomy and physiology involved, symptoms and diagnosis, risk factors and causes, and conventional treatments.   Holistic treatment recommendations may include diet, vitamins, minerals, and supplements, changes in lifestyle routines, herbal treatments,  and mental and emotional health recommendations such as stress management programs. Spiritual and social recommendations are also given and these include such things as finding social support and meditation.  Recommendations are also given for  therapies administered by health care professionals.

A list of recommended readings and a resource directory of organizations to contact for additional information are included in appendices.

Inside chiropractic : a patient’s guide.   Samuel Homola.  Prometheus Books,  1999.  270 p.  (ISBN1-57392-698-1), $23.95.

If you’re contemplating seeing a chiropractor for that nagging backache you’ve had for the past few months, you may want to read this book first.  Homola, a licensed chiropractor who has treated patients for over 40 years, offers a careful examination of the facts and falsehoods about his profession.

Developed  around the turn of the 20th century,  chiropractic is based on the belief that spinal problems are the underlying cause of disease.  Chiropractic’s founder, Daniel David Palmer, believed that the basic cause of ill health was nerve interference caused by displaced vertebrae, and that the remedy was spinal adjustment.  He eschewed drugs, surgery, and medical diagnosis and completely rejected the germ theory of disease.

Homola traces the history of chiropractic from ancient times to its popularization at the beginning of the 20th century.  He raises questions about a practice that he states is based on theory and not scientific fact and criticizes the aggressive and  misleading marketing campaigns and the “hype” associated with claims that chiropractic is an effective treatment for many common and serious medical conditions.  Homola asserts that, in fact, chiropractic should be limited to the care of musculoskeletal problems with mechanical origin. He is also critical of the quality of  chiropractic education stating that many students emerge from their education “…with an affinity for nonsense”.

Homola provides practical self-examination tips and other instructions to help readers decide if and when to see a chiropractor.  He also describes questionable techniques used to attract and treat patients which helps the reader avoid ineffective or even harmful procedures.  Appendices include the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research treatment guidelines for low back pain, a glossary, a list of references, and two scientific articles critiquing chiropractic.

Mayo Clinic heart book.  2nd ed.  Bernard J. Gersh.  William Morrow, 2000.  406 p.  (ISBN 0-688-17642-9), $30.00.

Every day more than 2,600 Americans will die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) – an average of 1 death every 33 seconds – making this the leading cause of death in the United States.  The Mayo Clinic’s purpose in preparing the first edition of this book 7 years ago was twofold: 1) To help people avoid CVD, and 2) To help those with the condition deal with it effectively, in partnership with their health care providers.    The goals for this new edition are the same.

More than 125 specialists from the prestigious Mayo Clinic contributed to this comprehensive and authoritative guide to heart disease.  The wealth of information is divided into 5 main sections.  These include a detailed description of the heart and blood vessels, the signs and symptoms of the many types of heart disease, and information on the risk factors for coronary artery disease and recommendations on how to make lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk.  The last two sections deal with the diagnosis of heart disease,  what tests and procedures are used and what the results mean, and the latest  in treatments.

All of the sections are accompanied by detailed black and white and full-color illustrations and  photographs.   “Heart healthy tips” sidebars throughout the book feature useful prevention strategies and a special chapter on women and heart disease outlines the many new issues and options for women.    Although updated in some areas, this book is not as comprehensive as  The New Living Heart by Michal Debakey ( Adams Media, 1997).

The People’s Pharmacy guide to home and herbal remedies. Joe Graedon and Theresa Graedon. St. Martin’s Press, 1999. 428 p.  (ISBN 0-312-20779-4),  27.95.

Noted authorities on prescription and over the counter drugs, (he’s a pharmacologist and she’s a medical anthropologist), the Graedon’s offer yet another helpful book in the spate of recent titles on alternative medicine.  At first glance, this may seem like just another recitation of the  benefits of herbs in treating common and serious medical ailments.  The Graedon’s, however, offer  information not readily available in other herbal books,  including the popular Honest Herbal by Varro Tyler, and their familiar yet authoritative style makes this an enjoyable and reassuring book.

In the  first section of the book the Graedon’s  offer their 20 favorite home remedies, including gin-soaked raisins for arthritis and Archway Coconut Macaroons for diarrhea.  Responsibly, they include citations to research articles supporting these remedies.

Information on life-threatening drug/herb combinations is given a place of prominence in a separate section in the front of the book.  These first two sections are followed by a listing of common symptoms and ailments with the Graedon’s recommendations for herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may provide relief.  Included here are recommendations for allergies,  cold sores, dry skin, indigestion, migraines, warts, and 50 other conditions.  Sources for products mentioned and helpful Internet resources for additional information are included.

An overview of the 50 most popular herbs in the U.S., Europe, and Australia details each herb’s active ingredients, common uses, precautions, adverse effects, and possible interactions.  A list of references, recommended books, journals, and magazines, and an index of web sites are included.

Second opinion : the Columbia Presbyterian guide to surgery.   Eric Rose.  St. Martin’s Press, 2000.  350 p.  (ISBN 0-31220584-8,  $27.95)

Rose, Surgeon-in-Chief of Columbia Presbyterian Center and Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, presents an important  resource on 45 of the most common surgeries and procedures, including balloon angioplasty, gastric bypass, appendectomy,  cataract removal , hernia repair, hip replacement, and varicose vein removal.  Each description includes the part of the body operated on, reasons for the surgery, factors that increase the risk of complications, possible complications during and after surgery, and possible pre-surgery tests.  The actual procedure involved is outlined step by step along with what to expect after surgery and during recovery.  Black and white illustrations help explain the procedures.

Helpful chapters cover getting a second opinion, evaluating your alternatives, and finding the right surgeon.  Also included is information on preparing for a hospital stay, important facts on anesthesia, and what to expect while recovering.   Appendices offer a list of  recommended web sites, sample forms such as a living will, a health care proxy, a consent form and a post-operative instruction form, and a patient’s bill of rights.

This is an important update and companion to The Surgery Book by Robert Youngson (St. Martin’s Press, 1997).

Your child in the hospital : a practical guide for parents. 2nd ed.  Nancy Keene and Rachel Prentice.  O’Reilly Press, 1999.  (ISBN1-56592-573-4), $11.95.

Facing a stay in the hospital can be a frightening experience for a child and parents may be  unprepared to help their child with  this ordeal and to manage all of the details associated with treatment, surgery, and hospital routines.  The two authors, one a parent who has had considerable experience advocating for and supporting her young daughter through chemotherapy for leukemia and the other a medical writer, offer practical  tips to help parents and children prepare for and cope with the hospital  experience.

Whether facing a short or an extended stay, parents can read about how to effectively communicate with hospital staff and how to help their child cope with common procedures.  Special attention is given to the child who has had a serious injury or is facing a long-term illness.  Advice is given on what to say to family and friends, providing emotional support to  siblings, and how to work with school personnel.  Parents are also given vital information on the nuts and bolts of hospital records, billing, insurance, and financial assistance.

In sidebars liberally placed throughout the book, forty parents share stories about their own children’s hospitalizations and offer advice based on their experiences.  They tell how they answered their child’s questions and prepared their child for the hospital stay, offer advice on managing stress, and suggest what  to say to family and friends, siblings, and school staff.

This helpful book provides a  list of recommended books for children about emergency room visits and hospital stays, books and videos for parents, and helpful organizations.  Journal pages where children can express their feelings about their hospital stay through words and pictures are also included.  This well-organized, easy to follow guide is packed with practical  information to help parents make their child’s hospital stay easier.

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The following title was recently added to the UCHC Library and may be of interest to public and health sciences librarians.

         Best alternative medicine. What works. What does not.  Kenneth Pelletier.  Simon & 
         Schuster, 2000.  449 p.  (ISBN 0-684-84207-6), $26.00.
         UCHC Library Call#:  WB/890/P388b/2000
In the rush to what they consider to be more natural and less harmful forms of treatment for their medical problems, individuals may tend to overlook that many of these complementary or alternative treatments may not work, may be harmful, and in some instances, may be life threatening.  Besides, many of these methods may have only one result – that of lightening your wallet.

This well-documented book presents an evidence based approach to the efficacy of popular alternative therapies.  Dr. Pelletier, clinical professor of medicine and senior research scholar at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford University School of Medicine,  examines  the most common practices by carefully analyzing  the body of scientific  research on these alternative methods.  He looks at mind/body therapies such as hypnosis and meditation, the use of dietary supplements, hormones, and phytonutrients, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Western herbal medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, Ayurvedic medicine and yoga, and spirituality and healing.  With each he describes what works, what doesn’t work, and what is currently being studied.

In a separate section, he describes complementary and alternative therapies for 80 common medical conditions including bronchitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, colic, fibromyalgia, hay fever, headaches, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, and ulcers.  He specifically lays out the evidence of what works and what doesn’t and points out important potential risks associated with the therapeutic method.  An extensive list of references for each chapter is included.

An advocate of complementary and alternative medicine, Dr. Pelletier does an excellent job of presenting an unbiased look at these popular healing methods.

Healthnet News is written by Alberta L. Richetelle with the assistance of Judith Kronick.
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