FAQ: National Library of Medicine® Guide to Finding Health Information
NLM librarians can't answer questions about individual medical cases or offer medical advice, because we are not doctors, nurses, or pharmacists. We can help you find health information resources.
- How Can the National Library of Medicine Help Me with My Research?
- Why Should I Go to a Local Library?
- How Do I Find a Health Sciences Library Open to Me?
- How Can I Get Information From Other Federal Sites?
- How Do I Evaluate the Information I Find?
We've put together some web pages that may help you.
- Check the Frequently Asked Consumer Health Questions. [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/services/faqref.html] These answer questions such as:
- How can I identify a pill?
- How can I find out about what a lab test result means?
- MedlinePlus® has information on hundreds of diseases, conditions, and health topics.
- Use PubMed® to search MEDLINE®, the database of biomedical sciences literature.
- ClinicalTrials.gov provides information on research studies on volunteers.
- Environmental Health and Toxicology has links to databases, bibliographies, tutorials, and other resources.
- Check the complete list of Databases, Resources & APIs available.
A local library is a good place to start your research. This may be a public, community college, or health sciences library open to the public. A library can:
- provide one-on-one help
- tell you about other local or regional resources
- help you get materials
- provide internet access to health resources.
Library Resources, either in print or electronic, may include:
- Medical or nursing textbooks, dictionaries or encyclopedias, and drug information handbooks
- Directories, including directories of doctors and medical specialists; and health information directories to find consumer health resources, support groups, and organizations.
How to get materials your library does not own: Interlibrary Loan and Loansome Doc®:
- If your library does not own the articles you want, ask about getting copies of articles through Interlibrary Loan.
- If you want to obtain articles cited in PubMed, also ask about a Loansome Doc account.
- Loansome Doc allows you to order articles online from PubMed. Requested articles are sent to you (for a fee set by the library you use).
- For more details on Loansome Doc, please see our Loansome Doc Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions.
- Call your Regional Medical Library at 1-800-338-7657 to find the closest medical library open to you, or use the list of Medical Research Libraries by State.
- Ask what services are available to you such as interlibrary loan, reference assistance, or database searches.
- Ask if the library charges a fee for photocopies or services.
Besides the NLM resources listed above, some starting points with free information are:
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) Health Information page for links to publications and fact sheets
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC) for health statistics, travelers' health guides, information on diseases and health topics. CDC has a Spanish-language Web site
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for background and regulatory information about drugs, food, biologics, cosmetics, medical devices, and radiological health
- healthfinder®for links to consumer health information and tools to stay healthy
- www.usa.gov, for all government information.
- The National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing
- The National Cancer Institute Evaluating Online Sources of Health Information