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Flu symptoms can strike at any time! Keep aware of the latest medical information with the 6th edition of Magill’s Medical Guide from Salem Health. This online database is arguably more useful than the print version because of the search potential that exists with the mixing and matching of terms (symptoms, for example) that will help locate specific diseases. The online version also comes complete with the photos, illustrations, and sidebars that would be found in the physical reference set. Click to read more about this medical resource!

Purpose of Database

Magill’s Medical Guide contains a great deal of authoritative medical information written in a way that is accessible to the general public and student researchers alike. The articles are more informative than popular health magazines, but don’t contain the amount of jargon and detail that would be found in academic medical journals. The set includes over 1,000 essays that are maintained for accuracy by a panel of medical experts. However, Salem Health is very quick to note that this resource is meant for broad informational purposes only, and treatments and therapies should be used only under medical supervision. All should be aware that this guide should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-medication, and the editors of the resource always recommend consultation with a physician. Salem Health admits that they are not, nor do they consider themselves to be absolutely conclusive on information in such a constantly changing field.

Search & Results

I recommend starting with a single word in the basic search either from the Home or Search tab. You can select where you would like to find your search term, whether in the title, abstract, or full text, etc. We only have a subscription to one of Salem Health’s resources: Magill’s Medical Guide, so don’t worry about trying to adjust that drop down option. Let’s just do a sample search of “arthritis.” You can see that one half of the page is results (122), and the other side provides more options to limit your search. These options are exactly the same as what you would find in their advanced search, so I think it’s best to see a broad result list and then easily narrow down from there. I like that the creators of this resource have simplified Boolean searching by providing little boxes with textual explanations- this is very easy to use. If we are not interested in rheumatoid arthritis, we can just put “rheumatoid” in the “Without the words” text box and limit our results by more than half. The searching by category option might be useful in rare situations, but I think that option is best used when doing general browsing (more on that later). Results can be sorted by relevance, title, and length. Theoretically, the results on the right-hand side should be categorized by age and gender, noted by the little tabs at the top, but I have tried many search terms and cannot get results to appear anywhere but in the “All” category.

Once you click on an article to read, you can see that information is laid out in a very organized manner. Each article begins with a definition and “Causes and Symptoms,” and then proceeds to the pleasantly alliterative “Treatment and Therapy” and “Perspective and Prospects” sections. Skip ahead to a certain section by using the Table of Contents field on the left hand side of the screen. You’ll notice that your search term is highlighted in yellow throughout the document, and if you click on the blue links, pop-up boxes will provide the definition. Definitions for key terms are also sometimes shown in the left-hand column along with quick glance information and related topics. Patrons also might want to check out the bibliographies provided at the end of each essay for other resources of interest.

Browsing and Other Tabs

The browsing tab in the main menu bar might be useful if a patron is not sure what their search term should be. They can browse through eight different categories, including: Anatomy & Physiology, Diagnosis & Testing, Diseases, Disorders, & Symptoms, Mental Health, Prevention & Lifestyles, Social Issues, Specialties & Health Care Providers, and Treatment & Therapy. If you click on a category, you can see that there are relatively few articles that have been catalogued. I am not sure if this is an ongoing process, or if it is somehow incomplete. For this reason, I’d recommend starting with a search term and only using this browsing tab in the situation where a key word to search does not come readily to mind.The other main menu tabs – Indexes and Glossary – are not extremely useful in our situation. Indexes would only be necessary if we subscribed to more than one Salem Health resource, and a Glossary search simply reverts back to the basic search tab. You  can use the Profile and Logon tabs to save articles, searches, and citations.

In conclusion, I think this resource is a good place to go for dependable, albeit somewhat general information on medical topics. There do seem to be a few kinks that need to be worked out, but on the whole information is laid out in a very clear and organized manner. I don’t think this resource could replace authoritative online sources like Web MD, but because the results are typically not overwhelming (search results for “kidney disease” in Web MD = 2,691 and Magill’s = 252), it is certainly a good place to start research and become familiar with the basics of a particular medical topic.


Category: Library

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