Archive for the ‘PubMed’ Category

PubMed Health review in JMLA

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Alisha Miles wrote a great review about PubMed Health for the recent edition of the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) that is worthy of a shoutout.

Alison Aldrich was the blogger assigned to cover National Library of Medicine (NLM) news during MLA 2011 in Minneapolis and an excerpt from the conference blog on May 17th, which was after the article deadline from what I can assume based on the citation dates in JMLA, is

Next came the moment many of us have been wondering about for a long time. What would NLM have to say about PubMed Health, this mysterious new site with such high prominence in Google Search results? In truth, they don’t have much to say… yet. We know its purpose is to provide health consumers with better access to systematic reviews and comparative effectiveness research. We also now know that Google released it in pre-alpha form long before NLM was ready for that to happen. We don’t yet know if or how it will relate to another prominent NLM consumer health website which shall remain nameless here. Betsy reported that PubMed Health will continue to be developed over the summer, and that further announcements would be forthcoming. Watch your RML’s blog for updates. We’ll be covering PubMed Health for sure.

I still haven’t seen any new news about PubMed Health as of now in August though.

PubMed Health: I don’t know who’s on third

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

As promised in the PubMed Health series (Who’s on first? What’s on second?), I still haven’t seen an official announcement but something caught my eye recently that is noteworthy and appreciated: a connection to MedlinePlus on the PubMed Health topic page!

Below is what the link to MedlinePlus information about diabetes looks like in the right sidebar on the PubMed Health Diabetes page:

Something else also caught my eye that is noteworthy and I want to know more about it – comparative effectiveness results explained as “Evaluating your options: Multi-study review of the strengths and weaknesses of various treatment options”

Here’s how it looks on the same PubMed Health Diabetes page, just below the MedlinePlus link:

Here’s the page for the second comparative effectiveness result listed (click to enlarge image)


I don’t see PubMed Health listed among the topics that will be presented at the NLM Theater during the Medical Library Association meeting in Minneapolis, but do see Comparative Effectiveness Research: Everything You Wanted To Know But Were Afraid to Ask.

I’m not afraid, and I’m taking a look at my schedule to make sure I’m there asking about this at some point!

I’ll likely share what I find out in a post here after MLA as I will be an official MLA 2011 blogger. I will post a summary post here with links to all I’ve written over there later too. Please do stop me in the halls and say hi if you’re at MLA! I’ll be the somewhat tall (5’10” without heels) one looking a little bit dazed and confused, this is only my second full MLA experience.

PubMed: Keep calm and carry on?

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

pan·ic –noun

1. a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals.

I hate panic. I’m also not a huge fan of unclear information that adds fuel to panic.

The potential for the Federal government to shut down was a very real situation last week with a lot of unknown ‘what if’ factors that was resolved at the 11th hour. Fear of the unknown often leads to panic – that I understand. Apparently Federal agencies themselves could do little to clearly communicate their contingency plans for what was and wasn’t considered essential. That I’m not so sure I understand, but since I’m not a Federal employee I’m not going to try to figure out why.

What I can do is research for information, which I found and shared last Friday to counter whatever tweets I saw that took on panicky tones about whether or not PubMed would remain online: White House says critical websites won’t be affected by shutdown. Granted this information did not name PubMed specifically by name but one would think that the world’s largest medical library resources used by millions of people a day would be considered critical.

Or are they?

What does it mean when National Library of Medicine contractors, verified by listed names on their Twitter accounts through the staff directory, tweet information like this?

I don’t have the answer.

Others have weighed in better than I about the possibilities implied here too.

What’s on second? PubMed Health

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

To update Who’s on first? NLM and Google health searches (please see Abbott and Costello for my post title if there is a third update about this), today we have a tweet from the NCBI account on Twitter about PubMed Health which now does exist as a central URL resource:







Alisha764 is on it with blog coverage of this – just about every question I have about this resource, she’s asked. Read and see if you have the same ones too.

I’m looking forward to hopefully learning more soon.

Health Literacy and Twitter Synergy: #healthlit

Friday, October 8th, 2010

On October 4th, the Twitter accounts for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social media (@CDC_eHealth) and (@healthfinder) proposed a chat on October 7th with a hashtag of #healthlit to discuss the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy developed by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

What happened on Twitter during that hour still blows my mind away 20 hours later as I’m writing this.

I and quite a few librarians, library-related folks & library Twitter accounts (medical and others) were there along with federal, state &  local/county-level agencies with health information interests, hospitals, regular media, healthcare social media strategists, health information vendors, health educators, public health educators, and countless others.

We were probably supposed to follow a semi-structured question/discussion format centering on the health literacy action plan that is gently cattle prodded moderated as most scheduled Twitter chats are.

That’s not quite what happened.

The energetic passion that resulted from everyone seeking to connect, share and learn about each other’s strategies and approaches for health literacy were contagious to the point of being an instant online pandemic. It was chaotic. It was overwhelming. It was the first time I saw the MedlinePlus Twitter account (@medlineplus4you) be quite engaged in a hashtag chat including direct replies to others… putting the social in a National Library of Medicine social media channel.

It was one of the most unexpected and amazing community flashmob experiences I’ve been a part of on Twitter. I was just one small voice contributing the Medical Library Association’s and the National Network of Libraries of Medicines’ health literacy resources and supporting the discussion about MedlinePlus, NIHSeniorhealth and the Information RX program.

Other health literacy resources I managed to gulp from the firehose (besides the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy) were

  1. Health Literacy Online (fantastic ODPHP resource covering how to write & design easy-to-read websites)
  2. The Plain Language Medical Dictionary Widget (University of Michigan)
  3. Clear Communication: An NIH Health Literacy Initiative (National Institutes of Health)
  4. Talk To Your Doctor (part of NIH Clear Communication)
  5. Talking With Your Doctor (National Institute on Aging)
  6. Improving Health Literacy for Older Adults (PDF, CDC)
  7. Improving Communication with Older Patients (AAFP)
  8. Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals (online health tutorial, CDC)
  9. Health Information for All by 2015 (HIFA2015)
  10. Health Literacy Studies (Harvard)
  11. MEDLINE/PubMed Search and Health Literacy Information Resources (NLM)

For me, the most exciting thing was having people from so many perspectives coming together with so much enthusiasm to discuss health literacy. Not a single one of us (or the agencies we work for) has The Only Right Answer: if we did, everyone would already understand medical information and there wouldn’t be a national action plan to improve it.

With everyone continuing to come together and all perspectives being heard, that is very likely to change. I can’t even begin to cover the multiple threads addressing accessibility, jargon, acronyms, disparities, specialized health needs (rural, seniors, etc) that were part of the conversation beyond resource sharing. There is a WTHashtag archive but it’s very hard to follow these threads there. I am excited about additional discussions and future collaboration opportunities though and will keep writing as I learn more about how to get involved.

NLM APIs: Why medical librarians should care

Monday, September 20th, 2010

On Friday, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) announced the release of their application programming interface (API) web page via the Technical Bulletin.

It’s Monday and I know we’re all gearing up for a crazy busy fall so I’ll keep this short and sweet

What’s an API?

NLM’s definition from the API webpage: a set of routines that an application uses to request and carry out lower-level services performed by a computer’s operating system.

Huh? What’s so exciting about that?

Agreed. We need to stop talking about technology to explain technology.

Let’s paraphrase Webpopedia: An API is part of a set of tools for building software applications. A good API makes it easier to develop a program. This is good for users because all programs using a common API will have similar interfaces. This makes it easier for users to learn new programs.

Oh, does that include mobile applications and such?

Yes, releasing APIs does make it easier to develop mobile apps.

Does that API page include PubMed too?

Yes, as part of Entrez Programming Utilities (currently third down).

Why should I care/know when I don’t write software?

As I learned in Woods Hole last year, the future in direct data access is now and we need to stay on top of the latest.

NLM has invited the public to develop computer and mobile interfaces and are seeking comments and recommendation for future APIs. I am hopeful NLM will also create resources including these third-party interfaces once they are developed so we don’t have to search high & low for them.

Now’s your chance to let people know this is in the works and submit your own recommendations to NLM for what you’d like to see developed.

Friday Foolery #102: Bacony fun with PubMed

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Thursday’s post research inspired me and I’m not sure why I haven’t tried this before.

Alas, there is no bacon[MeSH].

Life is so unfair.

I did the next best thing, winnowing the list as I scanned the results and ended up with a relatively accurate Bacon[ti] NOT (Francis OR Roger OR Kevin OR Selden OR Chow OR Harry OR Cyrus OR Josiah OR George OR Governor)

That still includes some mentions of Bacon As Person but not many. Swine flu update: bringing home the bacon was the only one that had anything to do with H1N1, about a dozen articles had variations of ‘bringing home the bacon’ as the title.

Perplexing international translations I’d love to have someone check for accuracy include

  • [Instruments, books and other objects memorable to (almost) forgotten opinions, therapies, buildings, etc. Bacon fatness meter in live pigs] (Dutch)
  • [One catches not only mice with bacon. An atraumatic treatment for cutaneous myiasis] (German & nasty, don’t click if you’re eating)
  • [“Worry bacon” in children and adolescents. A contribution from child-guidance and forensic-psychological practice] (German)
  • [Bacon as therapeutic substance in pediatrics.] (Undetermined language (!!))

Speaking of eating, how about Characteristics of a cream of cheese with bacon frozen soup concentrate? Mmm tasty!

The Bacon pull-through procedure is… probably something I don’t want to think  about. What appeared to be related (an article in J Assoc Off Anal Chem about uncooked bacon) is actually not since that’s the Journal-Association of Official Analytic Chemists. Maybe that abbreviation is why they went out of print in 1991?

Bacon therapy sounds inviting but in reality is also nasty and related to the German article above. You’ve been warned if you click to find out.

My favorite title is just a little older than I am:

While this appears to be my personal manifest destiny, it was a letter to the editor about prohibiting carcinogens in food that took things a little bit too far.

I still plan on having coffee & bacon for breakfast today though!

PubMed: Say Interactive Tutorial[pt]?

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Michelle Kraft learned from the New England Journal of Medicine that their Videos in Clinical Medicine are indexed in PubMed under Interactive Tutorials[pt].

I thought I must not have been paying attention during the several short and one full-day PubMed training classes I have had thus far, and even double-checked the manual to see where it was covered. It wasn’t specifically except for mention of more Publication Types under the most frequently used types listed first under Limits, such as clinical trials and meta-analysis.

Not only was it news to me, apparently this was news to other medical librarians such as Mark MacEachen too. Two more have been added since she covered them bringing the total number up to 760 as of Wednesday night.

That requires poking around.

I popped in (“catheterization”[MeSH]) AND Interactive Tutorial[pt] and sure enough

That was definitely a NEJM video. The earliest result listed in this search was also a NEJM video from 2006, and Mark noticed was from 1991.

But wait, wasn’t this term from 2008 according to the MeSH Scope note defining Interactive Tutorials as “Consisting of video recordings or other files that reveal material selectively according to user guidance”?

Yes, and there was specific information shared about Interactive Tutorials and their retroactivity in the Nov-Dec 2007 NLM Technical Bulletin about 2008 MEDLINE data changes, worth a read that I’ve quoted below:

Interactive Tutorial
Interactive Tutorial describes items published online and consisting primarily of non-narrative text, such as a video recording or other interactive content in which the sequence of content presented depends upon interaction from the user. The only narrative text may be the abstract; otherwise there is little or no “traditional” narrative text.

Examples are:

  • “Videos in clinical medicine” that appear periodically in the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • “Multimedia article” that appears periodically in Surgical Endoscopy.
  • “Learning on the Web” that appears in the journal Heart.

This new publication type will not be applied if a video or other interactive content is only a part of the supplemental or other minor portion of a published article.

In the near future, NLM will apply this new PT retrospectively to existing citations that qualify. When used, no other PT is assigned. Even though treed under Review [pt], the number of references, if they exist, will not be counted nor appear in the MEDLINE citation.

I honestly don’t know what the scoop is with the 1991 citation.  Was it really a very early Web resource? Anyone have access to find out?

NLM Theater at MLA

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Has it really been 2 years since my MLA 2008 post about the NLM Theater presentations I attended about PubMed (when the automatic term mapping change was the only big deal) & the Drug Information Portal that I later broke down into sections to highlight?

The truth of the matter is that in my short career as a medical librarian, I have been to to the MLA meeting once and then only for one day. Seriously. DC will be my first full MLA conference experience and I’ll also be an official conference blogger, session Twitter jockey (really!) and moderator of another session there. I would love to meet everyone! I’ll be the tall (5’10” in flats) somewhat lanky one usually wearing some shade of black and probably looking slightly overwhelmed by the whole scene.

I finally got a chance to look over the schedule for the NLM Theater presentations this year (get the PDF, it has more detail) and two things jumped out at me that I wasn’t expecting. Keep in mind my standard disclaimer: I’m not speaking on behalf of my employer here, I’m speaking as a medical librarian with an eye on the horizon.

Introduction to NCBI Molecular Databases .… In particular, pre-computed associations between data now promoted in the Discovery initiative expose useful and hypothesis generation relationships that further scientific investigation.

Whoa, hello Discovery initiative in the brochure! Given the level of integration we now see of the 29 databases in PubMed search results, getting a better understanding of what they are about straight from NCBI staff is probably a really good idea.

MedlinePlus Update … Come hear about our recent developments including Mobile MedlinePlus, MedlinePlus email updates and connecting MedlinePlus to EHRs/PHRs. Also be one of the first to get a glimpse of the forthcoming MedlinePlus site redesign.

I definitely want to know more about these connections and what’s up with the site redesign.

I will be covering at least two sessions a day as a conference blogger (my strategy is here), and I’ll write some compilation posts here at my home blog linking to my entries on the conference blog in addition to pictures and additional insights. See you there at MLA, or if not please let me know what questions you have that I can try to find answers for! Comments here or @eagledawg on Twitter will be the best way to make sure I see them in the days ahead.

Wrong again: (F)NLM and Social Media Growth

Monday, April 5th, 2010

On Friday I lied, today I joyfully announce that I’m finally wrong about something else. To quote myself from May 2009, I’m still hopeful for the day when we will see an NLM social media presence.

I lamented the lack of a specific NLM social media presence as recently as February: PubMed. The Twitter account I was told was not official (see comments) for months now is. See the complete list of official NLM social media channels at

Even better, there is a Friends of the National Library of Medicine (FNLM) conference being held April 6-7th entitled The ePatient: Digital and Genomic Technologies for Personalized Healthcare that is making use of the Twitter hashtag #eNLM. This may not seem all that remarkable but things have come a long way from a total lack of NLM presence in social media less than a year ago to a dedicated webpage of social media channels, and their news account on Twitter promoting a conference hashtag:

Being the librarian/archivist type that I am, I discovered no one else created the wthashtag wiki page for the conference so I did. Learn what’s being discussed, see who the main participants are, and run transcripts by selecting date ranges at

I wish I wasn’t on the other side of the country and could be there, and hopeful that those who are will share the wealth of information with the rest of us!