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Health Research > 1: About


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1A: About Health Research

Health research encompasses research about disease, preventative medicine, fitness, diet, business aspects of healthcare, mental health, pharmaceuticals, public health issues, and more. Focus can be on children and teens (pediatrics), adults, or the elderly (gerontology). Those researching health topics may be health care professionals, health product investors, scientists, students and consumers.  Some research needs may be highly technical, other needs might require accurate information that is understandable for the lay person.  Health research can include experiments on animals and humans, or may be bibliographic and focus on printed research results. Veterinary medicine is NOT included in this guide, but is covered in a separate guide for Life Sciences.

1B: Of Particular Note for Online Research:

 A great concern of the professional medical community is that the general public will begin to rely on information on the Web for making life and death decisions in lieu of meeting and working with a health care professional. It has been widely reported that there is much erroneous health information on the Web and that developing skills for seeking reliable and authoritative information are of utmost importance.

One benefit of this great concern is that medical information tends to be very well organized and major health organizations have take steps to ensure that people can be led to useful and correct information. The US government (Department of Health and Human Resources, Centers for Disease Control, National Cancer Institute, etc.) and the American Medical Association are two such institutions that have major presences on the Web. Medical schools and hospitals have also done much to ensure accurate information. Another great benefit is that leading edge research is also more available to our health care professionals themselves.

Finding support and discussion groups for various health ailments and traumas is fairly easy to do and many abound. The nature of the field makes it such that primary resources are often difficult for the lay researcher to use, requiring an understanding of how medical statistics are kept and reported, as well as understanding medical terminology and subject hierarchy. They are also sometimes impossible to access due to privacy rights (especially for things like patient records).

Activity

Search for the number of AIDS cases reported using USA.gov.

[Links open in new browser window.]

Pop Quiz

Which source provides the most reliable medical information on the Web?

Correct answer: [NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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