BOX 4-8

Tasks the National Library of Medicine Should Undertake to Develop Quality Internet Resources for Drug Information

  • Expand the language offerings of MedlinePlus health information and interactive tutorials to accommodate those who do not possess proficiency in English.

  • Develop interactive tutorials for medication information (i.e., pharmacy leaflets). Such tutorials should be available to consumers in a number of different languages.

  • Develop and maintain a standardized glossary of medication-related terms to help consumers understand the differences between particular medical concepts or terms. A link to the glossary should be available on each MedlinePlus medication information webpage.

  • Maintain a patient safety library for consumers, containing general information on medication safety practices and where to report problems.

  • Work with other government agencies or private groups to develop criteria for evaluating the quality of health information for consumers on the Internet. A “seal of approval” or a “trusted site” designation (similar to the “Good Housekeeping seal of approval”) should be developed that is easily recognizable to consumers.

  • Work with Internet service providers and search engine developers to establish mechanisms for making the NLM-based health and medication information and top-quality peer-reviewed literature first results of consumers’ online information searches.

proved health outcomes, decreased provider and emergency room visits, and ultimately reduced health care expenditures (Reigel et al., 2002; Bosworth et al., 2005; Caithain et al., 2005). Self-confidence and self-efficacy in handling one’s own health problems are also noted benefits of telephone interventions (Brooks et al., 2004).

Currently, most telephone helplines are available through health care providers and target certain health conditions, such as cancer (Jefford et al., 2005), chronic heart failure (Reigel et al., 2002), rheumatoid arthritis (Hughes et al., 2002), hypertension (Bosworth et al., 2005), and mental health problems (De Leo et al., 2002). Some address the needs of specific patient populations (e.g., pediatric patients) and are manned by physicians who share resources (Poole et al., 1993). For providers, the Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR, 2005) provides lists of toll-free numbers for pharmaceutical companies staffed by nurses and pharmacists well qualified to provide drug information.

In Western Australia, nurses provide health information associated with general practice by telephone statewide (Turner et al., 2002); similar services are offered nationally in Canada (Robb, 1996), Denmark (Christensen and Olesen, 1998), and the United Kingdom (Caithain et al., 2005). The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom has by far the most



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