Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Consumer Health Complete

One of the popular uses of the web is to search for health related information. However when you do so, you need to be aware that when you use Google, Bing, or your other favourite search engine that the information you find is essential unregulated. There is a lack of basic quality standards and often it is difficult to determine who the author of a site really is.  Using Google is great to find information generated by sources such as professional associations, government agencies or the like. It is also great to find what others have to say on a certain topic (like on the website ratemymd.ca), but the web can also be used as a person’s soap box - so you need to think critically of what you read.  

To help you find reliable information, look for the Hon Code symbol. The HON (Health on the Net) Foundation is a non-governmental organization offering to Internet users reliable and trustworthy information through more than 5,000 accredited medical and health web sites according to the HON Code of Conduct (HONcode).

That being said, there are resources available from the library that you cannot find via Google. They are part of the Invisible Web.  In short, a subscription has to be paid for access to the resources, and your favourite search engine isn't going to do that on your behalf, making them unavailable to be indexed by the search engine.  In many cases, this is the most sought after information on the web.  

The Library has access to an amazing tool called Consumer Health Complete (CHC).  This source has been made available thorough the support of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ontario Library Service.   They have paid the subscription fee so that everyone in Ontario has access to the same reliable authoritative health information online.  You can access CHC by visiting the library database webpage and then logging in with your library card number (all digits, no spaces). 

With CHC, you can access easily understandable health and medical information.  There is coverage of all areas of health and wellness - from mainstream medicine to holistic and integrated medicine.  You can find information on aging, cancer, diabetes, drugs and alcohol, fitness, nutrition, children's health, men and women's health and much, much more. 

This database features a user-friendly interface which allows you to:
  • browse alphabetically by disease, condition, injury or procedure
  • view evidence-based reports, reference books, fact sheets, images and videos
  • look up monograph information about many kinds of drugs, include prescription drugs, herbs, over-the-counter products and more
  • browse popular health reference books
  • search by topic
  • print articles, email or save them to your computer
  • create email alerts or subscribe to a topic's rss feed to be updated on any future articles on a certain topic or from a certain title.
When you use this source, you will notice that CHC has been verified as a reliable health source by the HON Foundation.  

Click here to download a basic help page.  You can also Contact SPL staff with your health question by calling our telephone reference service at (519) 271-0220, sending us an email at askspl@pcin.on.ca or visiting the information desk on your next visit.

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