HEALTHNET NEWS VOL. XV, NO. 4        WINTER   2000
Lyman Maynard Stowe Library
University of Connecticut Health Center

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

         UPDATE
        A public programming opportunity for your library
        Free databases listed on UCHC Library web site
        NETNEWS
        Quackery on parade
        How about a career change? Online medical school curriculum.
        Nutrition advice and information from the U.S. government
        How healthy is your community?
        Complementary therapies for cancer
        Combined effort of agency offers information on cancer drugs and researach
        FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
       Recommended consumer health books
       - American Diabetes Association complete guide to diabetes : the ultimate home reference. 2nd ed.
       - The diabetes problem solver : quick answeers to your questions about treatment and self-care.
       - Making informed medical decisions : where to look and how to use what you find.
       - Working with your doctor : getting the healthcare you deserve.
 


UPDATE

A  PUBLIC  PROGRAMMING  OPPORTUNITY  FOR  YOUR  LIBRARY

Does your library offer classes for the public on Internet searching skills in different subject categories?  Have you considered offering a class on health and medical resources but haven’t had the time to develop the program?   Healthnet can help.  Healthnet staff has had considerable experience training individuals to use the Internet to locate high quality, dependable health and medical information. We have had experience training librarians and the public.

We can tailor a program to suit your needs.  We can offer a one hour or two hour program, focus on a specific aspect of health or medicine, describe the fundamentals of evaluating Internet resources, or  include anything else you feel is important for your particular audience. We can offer a daytime or evening program and can help with publicity by designing a flyer for you to use.

This can be a great way to publicize the health resources of your library and may even draw people who are not regular library users.  For more information or to schedule a program, call Alberta Richetelle at Healthnet 860/679-4055 or email :richetelle@nso.uchc.edu.
 

FREE   DATABASES   LISTED  ON  UCHC  LIBRARY   WEB SITE

Did you know that you can access many free databases from the Health Center Library’s homepage?  There are over 100 databases available from our homepage and more than half of them are available free of charge to anyone inside and outside the Library.  You can access the databases by going to the UCHC Library homepage at http://library.uchc.edu and then selecting “Databases” listed on the left side of the page.  Many of these databases are very specialized.  Some, however,  such as PubMed , the free online version of Medline, and  MedlinePlus , the consumer version of Medline, may be more familiar  to librarians and consumers.

The databases listed below are just a few of the ones listed on the Library’s web site.  Sample these and browse through some of the others – you may find useful information to help you answer medical and health related questions

Alcohol and Alcohol Problems Science Database - This is a comprehensive online resource covering all aspects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism with over 100,000 records.  Although not full-text, the abstracts often contain useful information.  Content includes information on the relationship between alcohol use and accidents, drug use and the incidence of assaults, and other similar topics. Simple and complex searches are possible and many help screens make this database easy to use.

Biomedicine and Health in the News - This database is produced by the Healthnet program at the University of Connecticut Health Center Library.  This searchable database provides quick access to the biomedical, scientific and health journal literature referenced in newspaper articles appearing in the New York Times and is also available on the Healthnet homepage at http://library.uchc.edu/bhn.

Birth Defects - Based on Jablonski’s Dictionary of Medical Syndromes, this database consists of over 700 structured descriptions of congenital abnormalities associated with mental retardation. Each description contains synonyms for the syndrome, associated features, and references with hyperlinks to citations in Medline.

Clinical Practice Guidelines - A resource for the public and for health professionals on standards of care for specific diseases and medical conditions in the form of practice guidelines developed by professional medical associations and organizations.  The site offers summaries of the guidelines as well as full-text, when available, and the ability to compare guidelines on key points.

Clinical Trials Databases – The purpose of this database is to provide patients, family members and members of the public current information about clinical research studies.  There is also a link to this database from Healthnet’s list of Internet Resources at http://library.uchc.edu/departm/hnet/inters.html under the heading “Clinical Research Trials.”

Clinical Trials Listing Services (CenterWatch) - A resource for patients interested in participating in clinical research studies and for research professionals interested in learning about what research is currently being conducted.  A link to this database is also in  Healthnet’s list of Internet resources  under the heading “Clinical Research Trials.”

DrugFacts – This comprehensive free web site offers information on 7,000 of the same drugs listed in Facts and Comparisons, a print publication of over 28,000 prescription and over the counter drugs.

IBIDS Database – A database of published, international, scientific literature on dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals, and botanicals .

National Organization for Rare Diseases (NORD) – Consists of three separate databases: Rare Diseases; Rare Disease Organizations; Orphan Drugs.  The database provides for free basic information on a select number of rare diseases and disorders; full-reports are available for a fee.  NORD is also listed in Healthnet's Internet resources   under the heading “Diseases and Medical Conditions, General Health”.

MARCH  IS  NATIONAL  NUTRITION  MONTH

The  American Dietetic Association  (ADA)  has designated March as National Nutrition Month.  This year’s slogan is "Food and Fitness : build a healthy lifestyle”.

If you are interested in having a display in your library to celebrate National Nutrition Month you can request a catalog of products from the ADA.  Although many of the items are for nutrition specialists, the ADA offers  a colorful poster ($5.50 for non-members), stickers for adults and children  (100 of each for $9.99 each), and bookmarks (30 for $5.99).  You may request a copy of the Nutrition Month product catalog via email by writing to nnm@eatright.org or by snail mail at American Dietetic Association, 216 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60606-6995; Telephone: 312/899-0040.

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NETNEWS

QUACKERY  ON PARADE

Most of us rarely find medical tests or procedures pleasant experiences.  If you’ve ever had to be subjected to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a lithotriptor machine (which crushes kidney stones using sound waves), you may want to count your blessings that you didn’t live in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s, when medical quackery was rampant. The Quackatorium  offers a glimpse into the world of medical quackery and electrotherapy devices.  Some of the devices included here are fascinating and creepy, with a few appearing to border on torture.  The devices include the Radio Disease Killer, the Vitapulser, the Patho-Neuroclast, eye massagers, and galvanic batteries.

An antique medical device collector maintains this site.  In addition to photographs, illustrations, and descriptions of the devices, he offers a list of sites that include information on other devices and medical quackery in general.  A great site for the medical history buff and the curious.
 

Each profile includes a brief description of the herb or other alternative remedy, what it is used for, precautions before using, usual dosage,  storage requirements, and possible side effects or adverse reactions.  Each profile includes several references to studies reported in the medical literature on the efficacy of the herb or alternative therapy.
 

HOW  ABOUT  A  CAREER  CHANGE? 

Ever had a secret desire to go to medical school or been curious about what doctors learn during their four years of training?   Integrated Medical Curriculum (IMC) bills itself as “…the first web site ever to integrate the major courses taught in medical school.”  IMC is produced by Gold Standard Multimedia (GSM), a developer of innovative medical education and drug information software and online services headquartered in Tampa, Florida.

The IMC has different areas of study, including basic clinical skills and basic sciences programs.  The “Clinical Skills” area includes a teaching guide and reference in clinical diagnosis with 350 illustrations and photographs, narrated video demonstrations, step-by-step instructions on how to perform each skill, printable checklists, and more than 300 content pages.  The “Basic Sciences” area offers instruction in basic human anatomy, radiologic anatomy, essentials of immunology, essentials of human physiology, microscopic anatomy, and cross-sectional anatomy.

The “Testing Center” has thousands of quiz questions to test your knowledge and skills.  The “Student Lounge” has message boards, e-cards, and feature stories and the  “Faculty Lounge” includes an online journal and conference and awards information.

Other features on the site are an online store of GSM products (not yet fully operational), biographies of the IMC authors, and feature stories about healthcare, education, and multimedia worldwide.  This superb site offers a wealth of medical information for the highly motivated and curious individual willing to devote the time to explore a challenging course of study in medicine.   Free registration grants access to all of the features on the site.
 

NUTRITION  ADVICE  AND  INFORMATION  FROM  THE  U.S. GOVERNMENT

Nutrition.gov  is a new federal resource that provides easy access to all online federal government information on nutrition.  This national resource makes obtaining government information on nutrition, healthy eating, physical activity, and food safety, easily accessible in one place for many Americans.

Important information that can be used in the treatment and prevention of disease is available on the website which serves  as a comprehensive and reliable source of information on nutrition and dietary guidance with an extensive interactive  scientific reference section. Additionally, this new online resource includes specialized nutrition information for infants and  children, adult women and men, and seniors.

The web site also links to information about nutrition and food assistance programs such as the Food Stamp Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and the School Lunch and Breakfast programs.  Links to  federally supported research, reports, and brochures as well as funding opportunities in the federal government are also included. Users can find information on the food guide pyramid, dietary guidelines for Americans, dietary supplements, fitness, and how to keep food safe.

Another useful food and nutrition site from the federal government is Food Safety.gov  .   Aimed at both the professional and the consumer, this site offers information on safe food handling practices to prevent foodborne illness, guidance on how, when and where to report suspected foodborne illnesses or product complaints, and fact sheets on different types of foodborne diseases, toxins, and pathogens.  A news and safety feature alerts the user to product recalls and health warnings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other related federal agencies.

A special section for children, teens, and educators has fact sheets, games, and curricular materials on food safety related topics.   Other features of the site include links to federal and state food safety related programs and information about the national food safety initiative, a cooperative program of the U.S. Food and Drug Administrative and several other agencies to protect the nation’s food supply.
 

HOW  HEALTHY  IS  YOUR  COMMUNITY?

The  Community Health Status Indicators Project  recently debuted their web site in an effort to help people learn about the health status of their community and begin to think  about what to do in areas that need improvement.  The site includes reports on the health status of 3,082 counties in the United States.  The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds the Project.

The reports include data collected from 1988 to 1998 on such topics as the leading cause of deaths in a community, the actual  and  expected number of infectious disease cases, and  the  rate of medical care coverage in a specific county.  Users can access information on their county's population size and racial demographics and compare its statistics to that of a peer county with an equivalent population size, density, age distribution, and poverty level. Dr. Claude Earle Fox, Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration,  stated that he hopes this information will serve as a springboard for communities to get involved in a self-assessment of their health status indicators, determine their strengths and where improvements are needed, and share information on solutions to improve the public health.
 

COMPLEMENTARY  THERAPIES  FOR  CANCER

 Oncolink , the premier site for cancer, recently added a new feature.   Oncolink Complementary Medicine  describes the differences between alternative, complementary, and standard therapies and offers information on specific alternative and complementary treatments for cancer, including shark cartilage, vitamin/herbal therapies, nutritional treatments, aromatherapy, and acupuncture.

Reviews of books, videotapes, and audiotapes on complementary and alternative therapies for different types of cancer are included as are news stories on current research on the use of alternative and complementary treatments.  A listing of recommended Internet web sites includes links to  Alternative Health News Online , the National Cancer Institute’s  Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine web site, information for patients seeking alternative treatments for cancer on the  Quackwatch , and several other online resources.
 
 

             COMBINED  EFFORT  OF  AGENCIES  OFFERS  INFORMATION  ON   CANCER
            DRUGS  AND  RESEARCH
In an experimental effort, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration   has  launched a  web  site focused  on  cancer  drugs  and  research.   The  Oncology Tools web site  is intended to provide information to patients and consumers as well as to health professionals.

The section on “Approved Oncology Drugs” includes detailed information on approved medications as well as guidance for obtaining unapproved drugs. The user can choose to sort the drug list alphabetically by generic drug name, by drug trade name, or by manufacturer. From the trade name, there is a hyperlink to the package insert or product label. This section is also searchable by disease name, both adult and pediatric forms. Each disease area lists and describes the drugs approved to treat that form of cancer.

The Disease Summaries section is especially convenient. It provides links to the National Cancer Institute’s PDQ (Physician Data Query) database of cancer screening, treatment, and genetics information on specific types of cancer, with separate information for patients and health professionals. There are also links to information about types of cancer at the web sites of organizations and research institutions. The Regulatory Tools section discusses the FDA approval process, FDA cancer initiatives, and regulatory issues related to cancer.

The Disease Summaries section is especially convenient. It provides links to the National Cancer Institute’s PDQ (Physician Data Query) database of cancer screening, treatment, and genetics information on specific types of cancer, with separate information for patients and health professionals. There are also links to information about types of cancer at the web sites of organizations and research institutions. The Regulatory Tools section discusses the FDA approval process, FDA cancer initiatives, and regulatory issues related to cancer.

The Search function searches the entire FDA web site, not the Oncology Tools web site exclusively. This can be overwhelming and can yield very technical, irrelevant results.

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FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

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

American Diabetes Association complete guide to diabetes : the ultimate home reference. 2nd ed.   American
Diabetes Association, 1999. 506 p. (ISBN 1-58040-038-8), pap. $23.95.

The diabetes problem solver : quick answers to your questions about treatment and self-care. Nancy Touchette. American Diabetes Association, 1999. 511 p. (ISBN 1-57040-009-1), pap. $19.95.

These two very similar, extremely helpful guides to living with diabetes were both  published  by the American Diabetes
Association in 1999. Nancy Touchette, a science writer, is the author of both books.

The “Complete Guide” is an updated, second edition of  a  book  originally  published four years ago.  Like the “Problem
Solver,” it is written in an easy-to-understand style and  is quite comprehensive. The names and affiliations of physicians
and   nurses on the organization’s medical advisory  board,  who  contributed to both  editions  of  the “Complete Guide,”
are  listed  and  acknowledged.

The book  begins with  an  explanation of  diabetes,  its  types and their causes, and the diagnostic tests used to determine
whether or  not  a patient  is diabetic. There are  lengthy  explanations  of  insulin  pumps, types of  insulin regimens, and
monitoring  blood  glucose  levels. Complications  of  diabetes, its  effect  on patients’ emotions, family life and sexuality
are discussed. The book  concludes with a chapter about health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid,
hospital stays, nursing homes, and other aspects of  the health care system.

The appendix includes a glossary, an index, a detailed guide to  glucose testing, preparing  insulin mixtures, and injecting
insulin, as well as a resource guide to organizations and web sites.

Written  for  patients  and  families,  the  focuses  of  both  books are taking responsibility  for one’s care and maximizing
successful  diabetes  management  by  living  a  healthy life style.   Included  are detailed  tips  on nutrition  and  exercise,
written with an  understanding of the real life challenges of maintaining good health.

A unique feature of the “Problem Solver” is a lengthy section of flowcharts about specific symptoms of diabetes and their
care.  Each  box  in  the  easy-to-follow  charts  asks  a specific question about the patient’s experience with the symptom and then leads  to a  follow-up  question  or  to specific  advice, that  sometimes   includes  seeking  immediate  help from a doctor.

The “Problem Solver” presents  practical,  helpful  information  for  patients  by providing  solutions to  specific diabetes-
related  medical, emotional, family, insurance, and lifestyle problems in a clear format that is  repeated in each chapter.

Both books discuss diabetes in children and teenagers.  The “Problem Solver,” however  addresses  its chapters  on  these age  groups  directly  to  the  children  and  adolescents,  not  to  the  parents.  The   book  realistically  acknowledges  the difficulties  of being  a young  person  with diabetes  among friends and classmates who do not experience this challenge. The section  for  children is  especially well-written.

Making informed medical decisions : where to look and how to use what you find.  Nancy  Oster,  Lucy Thomas, Darol Joseff.  O'Reilly, 2000.  364 p.  (ISBN 1-56592-459-2), $17.95 pap.

The three different perspectives of the authors--a physician, a medical writer, and a medical librarian-- enhance the comprehensive coverage of this beginner's guide to consumer health research.  Types and characteristics of information resources are discussed as are planning and prioritizing research, how to develop a focused search strategy, and  finding and researching clinical trials. Advice is offered on how to communicate more effectively with your doctor and where to find support.

Different kinds of information resources are examined, such as books, magazines, audio and videotapes, professional medical journals, news reports, and pamphlets.  An overview is provided on how to gain access to these resources at libraries, bookstores, government agencies, professional associations, patient resource centers, and electronic and Internet subscription services.

Other topics discussed include understanding standard treatment options and the importance of researching clinical practice guidelines, understanding clinical pathways, and how to locate and contact experts.  A chapter on statistics helps to clarify misperceptions of risk and describes how to read a medical research paper.  Informative quotes from patients and family members about their research experiences are interspersed throughout.

Working with your doctor : getting the healthcare you deserve. Nancy Keene. O'Reilly, 1998.  357 p.
(ISBN 1-56592-273-5), $15.95, pap.

This is a comprehensive "primer for patient empowerment" that offers advice and guidance on understanding the managed care system process and finding a compatible physician.  Especially helpful are discussions about how to communicate effectively with your doctor, your rights and responsibilities as a patient, and how to ask questions about tests, drugs, and surgery.  A useful and practical chapter explains actions to take if you have been injured by illegal or substandard medical treatment.  The role of state licensing boards is discussed  as is basic information and steps to take if you decide to file a malpractice claim and how and when to report criminal activity.

A chapter on researching the medical literature describes the benefits of examining authoritative resources to learn about your own medical condition. It discusses how to formulate a search strategy, where to start your search,  resources
available in public and medical libraries, what’s available on the Internet,  and how to go about hiring someone to do the research for you.  Also included is an especially helpful overview of Medline, the premier index to the medical literature from the National Library of Medicine.  This is a practical guide with clearly explained advice interspersed with illustrative anecdotes to help consumers and patients learn the skills necessary to make informed decisions about their medical care.

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Healthnet News is written by Alberta L. Richetelle with the assistance of Judith Kronick.
If you have questions about anything in the newsletter or about Healthnet services for
Connecticut public libraries,please call 860/679-4055; e-mail address: richetelle@nso.uchc.edu.

                                           © 2001  University of Connecticut Health Center.    All rights reserved.