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Where to find reliable consumer health information

by Vinson Li on 2022-10-24T08:30:00-03:00 in Health literacy, Research, Patient Education, Primary Health Care, Consumer Health | Comments

Library Services subscribes to many electronic resources. Most of these are aimed at health care professionals to support their practice. However, you may sometimes need consumer health information to supplement the education you provide to patients during their appointments.

Consumer health information is information on health topics such as medical conditions, medications, tests, procedures, and more. The information is presented in an easy-to-read format and is written at a reading level accessible to most of the general public.

It can be difficult to find good consumer health information if you do not know where to look. People will often turn to a search engine like Google. This can be dangerous, as the average person may not be able to distinguish between good information and misinformation. They may also encounter outdated and irrelevant knowledge. As a health care provider, it benefits both you and your patients that you know where to find reputable consumer health information in order to best supplement in-person education.

The following resources for excellent consumer health information are available through Nova Scotia Health Library Services:

Nova Scotia Health patient pamphlets

  • More than 1,600 pamphlets in plain language, created by Nova Scotia Health staff and physicians on a myriad of topics
  • Available online in PDF format
  • Searchable in the Nova Scotia Health library catalogue, the pamphlets Print Code Index, as well as any Nova Scotia public library catalogue

MedlinePlus® (select from Databases A-Z list)

  • Includes patient handouts, online tutorials, and videos
  • Provides information organized into major areas such as: health topics, drugs and supplements, genetics, medical tests, medical encyclopedia, and healthy recipes
  • Information is available in multiple languages. The languages most frequently covered are English and Spanish
  • No subscription required, no advertisements

TRIP – Turning Research Into Practice (select from Databases A-Z list)

  • Database that compiles consumer health information from a variety of sources (e.g. NHS Choices, Medline Plus, etc.)
  • You can search for a topic and filter the search results by 'Patient Information Leaflets'
  • No subscription required, no advertisements.
    NOTE While labelled yellow like other paid PRO filters, 'Patient Information Leaflets' is not a paid filter and is free to use.

BMJ Best Practice (select from Databases A-Z list)

  • Includes printable patient leaflets in PDF format
  • More than 100 pamphlets organized alphabetically
  • Not open source, requires Nova Scotia Health affiliation to access, however you can print or download a PDF to send to your patients since your patients will not have access to BMJ Best Practice at home
  • No advertisements

eMedicineHealth (select from Databases A-Z list)

  • Includes more than 900 articles written by physicians for patients
  • Articles are organized by health topics (e.g. allergies, diabetes, etc.) and can also be browsed alphabetically by title
  • Open source, includes advertisements

Cochrane Library (select from Databases A-Z list)

  • You can search by topic
  • Cochrane systematic reviews often include a plain language summary for patients to better understand research relevant to their needs
  • Accessible to anyone in Atlantic Canada, no advertisements

If you aren’t able to find information that meets your patients’ needs, the Nova Scotia Health Patient Education Pamphlets team is happy to work with you to create a pamphlet on the topic of your choice. For further information:

Vinson Li

Librarian Educator, Patient Education Pamphlets Lead
Yarmouth Regional Hospital, Western Zone


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