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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 4: Search the Literature of HSR: Databases (Page 14 of 29)
Section 1: Health Services Research Databases and Information Resources


DIRLINE - Directory of Information Resources Online - is the National Library of Medicine's online database containing location and descriptive information about a wide variety of information resources including organizations, research resources, projects, databases, and electronic bulletin boards concerned with health and biomedicine. This information may not be readily available in bibliographic databases. Each record may contain information on the publications, holdings, and services provided.

Snapshot of the Dirline search engine.  width=DIRLINE focuses primarily on health and biomedicine, although it also provides limited coverage of some other special interests. These information resources fall into many categories including federal, state, and local government agencies; information and referral centers; professional societies; self-help groups and voluntary associations; academic and research institutions and their programs; information systems and research facilities.

Topics include HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, most diseases and conditions including genetic and other rare diseases, health services research and technology assessment.

DIRLINE contains over 8,000 records merged from the following sources:

  • National Library of Medicine (NLM) General biomedical resources compiled by the National Library of Medicine.
  • ODPHP National Health Information Center Database (HR) Supplied by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  • Poison Control Centers List (PCC) Accredited centers compiled in collaboration with representatives of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
  • History of Medicine (HMD) Produced by the History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine.
  • Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Produced by the National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health.
  • AIDS; Produced by the Centers for Disease Control's National AIDS Clearinghouse.
  • Directory of Biotechnology Information Resources (DBIR) Produced as part of NLM's efforts in biotechnology information.
  • Self-Help Clearinghouses (SHC) Produced in response to the Surgeon General's Initiative in Self-Help and Public Health.
  • NIH Research Resources (NIHRES) Information on NIH-funded research resources provided by the National Institutes of Health.
  • Health Services Research Information (HSRI) Produced under the direction of the National Information Center for Health Services Research, National Library of Medicine.

Searching DIRLINE

DIRLINE can be searched in a variety of ways. Geographic searching by city, state or country allows the retrieval of resources within a specified region. Users interested in locating resources by name or subject matter can specify either words appearing in the name field, the text of the record, or keywords, or enter Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).

Of special interest to health services librarians is information about which National Network of Libraries of Medicine Region the organization is in. For example, AcademyHealth is in Region 3 and the Health Services Research Training Program, University of California, San Francisco, is located in Region 7. (Not all records have this information available yet).

Snapshot of Browse DIRLINE for Text Words or Keywords/MeSH Headings. If you do not know a keyword or MeSH heading, use the Browse DIRLINE search feature for text words or keywords/MeSH Headings.

A Look at a DIRLINE Record

The following represents a DIRLINE record for AcademyHealth:

1801 K St. NW, Suite 701-L
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 292-6700
(202) 292-6800 (Fax)
Internet Address:

AcademyHealth was established in June 2000 following a merger between the Alpha Center and the Association for Health Services Research. AcademyHealth is the professional home for health services researchers, policy analysts, and practitioners, and a leading, non-partisan resource for the best in health research and policy. AcademyHealth promotes interaction across the health research and policy arenas by bringing together a broad spectrum of players to share their perspectives, learn from each other, and strengthen their working relationships.
Type of Organization:
National Network of Libraries of Medicine Region:
MESH Headings:
Health Policy
*Health Services Research
Information Services
Organizations, Nonprofit
United States
Other Keywords:
Health policy
Health services
Last Reviewed:
July 1, 2004
Record Identifier:

Note that when you search, your search term appears in red in the record. MeSH headings and other keywords make it easier to search for specific content.

Important note: While NLM is no longer adding records to this database it is still an important resource for contact and descriptive information.


  1. Do a search on DIRLINE on the topic of non-governmental organizations using the Exact Phrase radio button. How many records show up? Now try the acronym NGO (Non-Governmental Organizations). Would it be helpful to have NGO used as a keyword to retrieve these organizations? How about non-governmental organizations? Do NGOs do health services research? Should librarians be familiar with NGOs? Why or why not?
  2. Now try a search using the phrase "health services research" as Keywords /MeSH Headings (click the checkbox for this field). First, how many records did you find and how useful would this list be in your work? Is it easy to differentiate between academic and government agency sites?

Discussion Questions

  1. How helpful is it to you to know that the National Network Region is listed in records where available? Can you think of anything else that might be added to DIRLINE records?
  2. How useful do you find the MeSH headings and other keywords assigned to each record in the DIRLINE database?
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