A 2005 study published in the journal Health Expectations revealed that most people prefer the term “patient” when referring to themselves in a health care setting, but we are still “consumers” when it comes to choosing and making use of various health care services. According to the article ”A New Paradigm: The Patient as Consumer“ by Stephanie Stephens, there are six subsets of health care consumers whose different beliefs and values result in very different approaches to and uses of services. Nowadays we can be more engaged in making health care decisions due in part to easy and ample access to health and medical information. Case in point: back in the 1990s during my medical librarian days at a hospital library, we made extensive use of MEDLINE, a vast, fee-based subscription database containing biomedical and health literature, primarily for identifying material for physicians, nurses, med students and hospital administrators. Now a free version of MEDLINE, PubMed, is available to the public via the Internet. And a more robust version of MEDLINE is available for free through the library.
This easier access has made it possible for people to inform themselves concerning all matters of health/medicine (drugs, procedures, diagnoses, various healing modalities, etc.), resulting in altered doctor/patient relations. Many patients want to participate actively in their treatment process, rather than leaving decisions solely to the physician. And that makes sense since patients will ultimately live with the results of decisions made.
Consumer Health Complete, a database available for free with your library card, is an excellent resource to investigate your health concerns. (I used it to find the two articles mentioned above.) It’s easier to navigate than PubMed and is geared toward the non-professional. We also have a very good medical reference collection that includes encyclopedias, medical dictionaries and home health guides. Library Journal recently reviewed consumer health books and published this best-of list. All the books mentioned are available at DBRL.
From now until January 19, one of the second floor book displays at the Columbia Public Library will feature books on consumer health. Stop by and take advantage of this chance to investigate your health care matters.
Read more posts by Larkspur on DBRL Next.