The National Library of Medicine has partnered with many of the national leading agencies in the healthcare information field to tackle the often difficult and costly task public health officials and agencies in this country face when trying to access current and reliable health and demographic information. To this end, Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce, the collaboration of these US government agencies, public health organizations and health sciences libraries, have begun to narrow this divide in order to help “the public health workforce find and use information effectively to improve and protect the public’s health”.

As an area health sciences library serving members of this public health workforce, we have assembled some valuable internet resources that we present here with annotations. : The collaborative efforts of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), American Public Health Association (APHA), Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH), Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Medical Library Association (MLA), National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), Public Health Foundation (PHF) and Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). The site has a very useful search function as well as break out main topic links, including “Literature and Guidelines”, “Health Data Tools and Statistics”, “Grants and Funding” and “Education and Training” among other things.

Online Resources:

Many thanks go to the South Central Region of the NNLM and their ‘Public Health Information on the Web’ course for much of this listing.

Evidence-based Public Health Internet Resources

PubMed: Developed by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed is the premier scientific database of over 15 million bibliographic citations and abstracts dating back to the 1950’s in the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, health care systems, and preclinical sciences. Access to PubMed is free

Cochrane Library: The Cochrane Library consists of a regularly updated collection of evidence-based medicine databases, including The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. While you can browse and search abstracts of reviews free of charge, viewing full-text requires a subscription.

Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP): The products from the EPHPP are a resource for evidence-based decision-making in public health in Ontario and Canada. EPHPP conducts systematic reviews on the effectiveness of public health interventions, and summarizes recent, high quality reviews produced by others.

Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health Project: This site focuses specifically on public health best evidence resources with an aim toward examining evidence-based medicine models and assessing their effectiveness to public health. Links are provided to the top 25 public health journals and to evidence-based resources in public health practice.

Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services provides the latest available recommendations on preventive interventions: screening tests, counseling, immunizations, and medication regimens for more than 80 conditions. Sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Guide to Community Preventive Services: Developed by an independent task force with support from the CDC and Department of Health and Human Services, the Community Guide provides summaries on the effectiveness of population-based interventions for prevention and control. The site focuses mainly on HP2010 objectives.

Health Policy Guide: Containing over 150 topics, this resource provides evidence-based, peer-reviewed policy guidance and resources to support advocacy and decision-making at the state and local levels. The database is intended to be a compliment to the CDC’s Guide to Community Preventive Services.

Healthy People 2010 Information Access Project: Provides links to preformulated MEDLINE search strategies to help you find articles related to specific Healthy People 2010 objectives. Current focus areas include: Access to Quality Health Services; Diabetes, Disability and Secondary Conditions; Environmental Health; Food Safety; Health Communication; Hearing Objectives; Nutrition; Oral Health; Physical Fitness; Respiratory Diseases; Vision.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): Prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), contains data on specific diseases as reported by state and territorial health departments and as well as reports and surveillance summaries on infectious and chronic diseases, environmental hazards, natural or human-generated disasters, occupational diseases and injuries, and intentional and unintentional injuries.

National Guidelines Clearinghouse: Sponsored by the AHRQ, this Web site provides evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with recommendations, strategies and other information that assists healthcare providers in making appropriate healthcare decisions.

Prevention Guidelines: A searchable storehouse of documents containing CDC recommendations on a variety of health, prevention, and public health practice issues.

TOXNET: Developed by NLM, TOXNET is an integrated system of toxicology, hazardous chemicals and environmental health databases that are available free of charge on the web.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Geographic Information Systems, more commonly known as GIS, are computer-based decision support systems that link geographic information with descriptive information. The main feature of GIS is the ability to display geospatial representations of data in map format. These maps help policy makers anticipate future outcomes and allow them to analyze data. For example, data on demographic, socioeconomic and disease prevalence for individuals residing in certain counties can be entered as in a GIS system. Each of the data fields would receive its own layer. All of the layers could be superimposed on census maps to display the data to track disease incidence In a certain area. The use of GIS is exploding in the public health arena.

Overview of GIS Developed by ESRI, the leading maker of GIS software, this site provides an excellent introduction to GIS.

Public Health Applications

Cancer Mortality Maps and Graphs: Provides interactive maps, graphs, text, tables and figures showing geographic patterns and time trends of cancer death rates for the time period 1950-1994 for more than 40 cancers

CDC/USGS West Nile Virus Maps: Contains maps detailing county-level human, mosquito, veterinary, avian and sentinel data and information on West Nile Virus outbreaks.

EPA EnviroMapper: Allows users to map various types of environmental information, including air releases, drinking water, toxic releases, hazardous wastes, water discharge permits, and Superfund sites.

FEMA Mapping and Analysis Center: Provides national level GIS support and maps for natural disasters including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Geographic Products and Information

Census 2000: An index to data files and maps based on the 2000 Census. This site also provides a link to TIGER, an automatic digital mapping database from the US Census Bureau.

Injury Maps

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control: CDC Injury Center’s interactive mapping system, Injury Maps allows users to create county-level and state-level maps of age-adjusted mortality rates for the entire US and for individual states.

Interactive Atlas of Reproductive Health: A web-based interactive geographic information system (GIS) dedicated to reproductive health issues such as infant mortality, fertility, and low birth weight.

National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) GIS and Public Health: Designed to provide information on GIS at NCHS and in the larger public health community, you can access current or past reports of Public Health GIS News and Information, selected maps, and links to related sites.

USGS Geography: This website from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) contains a variety of mapping and geographic resources. Several federal agencies create maps using USGS data.

World Health Organization Public Health Mapping: The system allows the computer-assisted visualization of disease foci, the monitoring of newly infected or reinfected villages, the identification of at-risk populations, and the highly targeted, cost-effective distribution of interventions.

Health Promotion and Education

The National Library of Medicine offers many public health resources.

PubMed: provides access to the research and clinical literature in MEDLINE, and index of over 12 million references to biomedical journal articles.

MedlinePlus: has extensive patient education information, in both English and Spanish. Hundreds of health topics include drug information, interactive tutorials, encyclopedia, news, information about support groups, clinical trials, directories, and more.

AIDSInfo: provides current federally approved treatment guidelines for HIV infection and AIDS-related illnesses. HIV/AIDS-related clinical trials, web links, vaccine development, and drugs are also included.

Tox Town: provides information that public health workers can use to teach about key topics in toxicology, environmental health and occupational health, such as lead poisoning, air pollution and pesticide dangers.

Household Products: gives safety information for over 4,000 consumer brands of personal care, automotive, garden and cleaning products.

NCBI: the National Center for Biotechnology Information, provides tutorials, public databases, and computational resources on how complex interactions among genes and environmental and lifestyle factors can lead to disease.

NN/LM: the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, assists public health workers with training on these NLM databases and other web resources, providing speakers for educational programs or meetings, obtaining copies of journal articles, and identifying local health library resources.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): This is the health services research arm of the US Department of Health and human Services. The “Consumers-Patient” options in the drop down menu on the left side of the page should have interest for the health educator for the materials that enable patients to make wise decisions concerning their healthcare.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC): This agency is widely recognized as the primary producer of knowledge bases in public health. Some of the resources available here are CDCWonder, CDC Data and Statistics. MMWR, Hazardous Substance/Health Effects Database and Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Food and Drug Administration: The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuming safety of drugs, medical devices, foods and cosmetics. The site contains information for consumers, patients, health professionals, health educators, state and local officials, kids, teens, women among many others.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): This national agency’s website provides information on topics that include air, water, cleanup, climate change, compliance, pesticides, pollutants and ecosystems. The site also offers resources in Spanish.

World Health Organization (WHO): A United Nations agency that provides health and disease information worldwide. The site offers information and resources in several languages.