Saturday, June 16, 2007

Web Resources for Health & Medical Writers

I started writing about health and medical related topics about 11 years ago. My first assignment was to feature this couple who gave birth to quadruplets after being childless for several years. The article was meant to inspire couples waiting for that “miracle birth” and to educate readers about quadruplets and artificial insemination. Back then, my primary source of medical information was the print edition of the Merck Manual. I had access to the Internet but medical information seemed scarce on the Web at the time — at least, that’s the conclusion I had come to after using the prevailing search engine in the year 1996. ;)

Now, thanks to evolving online media technology, searching for medical information online is just a few clickety-clicks away. But beware of Web sites that publish articles without referencing experts. To make sure that your online source is credible and authoritative, check if it’s affiliated with a known research institution or a leading publisher of health and medical publications.

Here are some sites and references that have helped me with the media reporting of health and medical matters:

The Merck Manual of Medical Information - I use only the Home Edition for most of my articles. But if you’re looking for matters related to diagnosis & therapy, health & aging, chemicals & drugs, and animal healthcare, try the other editions which are also available online.

World Health Organization (WHO) - The WHO was once my favorite place on the Web. Their site is constantly updated and has the Media Centre where writers can easily access news, fact sheets, press releases, multimedia resources and contact information. They’re also very prompt when replying to your queries, so don’t you worry about looming deadlines.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) - The Brigham’s site is the first place that I go to when I’m writing an article on women’s health issues. To obtain relevant information, go to the Health Information page where you can find listed topics, upcoming events, news, and multimedia resources such as podcasts, videos and surgical webcasts. A teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, BWH is recognized internationally for its excellence in patient care and its outstanding reputation in biomedical research.

Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) - The CDC site was a treasure trove of information when I did an article on Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease, if you like) in 2001. The Web site has improved a lot and now includes podcasts. Check out the CDC Press Room for the latest press releases, transcripts, summaries and footages.

Is there a Web site or online medical reference you’d like to recommend? Post it here!

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