Although most health information needs can be satisfied by access to the popular medical literature specifically designed for lay usage, sometimes it is necessary to consult the professional medical literature to obtain more detailed and documented explanation. Such instances might occur when one is looking for current information on innovative surgical procedures, experimental drugs, new treatment modalities, new medical devices, rare or orphan diseases, treatment protocols, clinical trials, or the latest research findings. The professional literature is also valuable for locating information on subjects that lack the broad appeal required for a topic to be digested and published in the popular literature. Or, possibly, a subject is too recent to have reached the stage of popularization. Sometimes, information seekers may reject popular digests and demand a more current, substantive, and in-depth presentation than can be found in consumer publications. A very small but growing number of library users request to see the professional source articles and texts on which the popular narratives are based. Sophisticated medical consumers with their information-seeking skills honed on the Internet are increasingly requesting standard medical sources by name and would like to find these reference works in public libraries.
In general, discussion of broad subjects such as arthritis, diabetes, breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, pregnancy, and urinary infections can be found in the popular literature. Moreover, most diseases have an advocacy organization that makes educational material available to the lay public. Consequently, popular information on psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, lumpectomy, diabetes, ALS, cystic fibrosis, Crohn's disease, and so on is readily available from the corresponding advocacy organization. A vast quantity of cancer information is instantly available for consumers from the National Cancer Institute.
However, if information is required on technical topics for which no popular explanation exists, it is necessary to resort to the professional medical literature. If information is needed on Chiari malformation, laryngopharyngeal reflux, laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, sternoclavicular joint dislocation, Trousseau's syndrome, Thygeson's disease, Horner syndrome, external fixation of bone fractures, carcinoembryonic antigen, chronic inflammatory demyelinating neuropathy, or coccidioidomycosis, it is necessary to consult the professional literature for definition, description, and elaboration. A MEDLINE search will produce journal articles, and an examination of relevant textbooks and monographs (in or
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