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Learning Objectives


After completing this chapter, the reader will be able to

  • Differentiate among primary, secondary, and tertiary sources of biomedical information.

  • Select appropriate resources for a specific information request.

  • Describe the role of Internet- and mobile-based resources in the provision of drug information.

  • Explain the advantage and disadvantage of print- versus Internet- or mobile-based resources for drug information.

  • Evaluate tertiary resources to determine appropriateness of information.

  • Describe appropriate search strategy for identification of drug information.

  • Recognize alternative resources for provision of drug information.

  • Describe reliable health information resources for patients and consumers.

  • Explain the role and progress of drug information resource retrieved from mobile applications and their potential impact on patient care.


Key Concepts


  • 1 There are three types of information resources in biomedical literature: primary, secondary, and tertiary resources.

  • 2 Tertiary resources provide information that has been filtered and summarized by an author or editor to provide a quick and easy summary of a topic.

  • 3 Secondary resources are mainly in the form of searchable database that enables location and retrieval of primary or tertiary resources.

  • 4 There are several types of publications considered primary, including controlled trials, cohort studies, case series, and case reports.

  • 5 Knowing the most appropriate resource for information retrieval is the first step in the provision of quality drug information.

  • 6 Secondary electronic resources will index and possibly abstract information from different types and numbers of journals, meetings, publications, or sources; therefore in order to perform a comprehensive search for an article, multiple resources must be used.

  • 7 Drug or health information retrieved from Internet-based or online media needs to be evaluated for its accuracy, comprehensiveness, and recent update.




The quantity of medical information and medical literature available is growing at an astounding rate. Every year, 2.5 million articles are published from 28,100 active scholarly peer-reviewed English-language journals.1 This number of articles published grows by about 3% each year. The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) processes about 1 billion online searches per year from users seeking medical and health-related information via PubMed.2


The introduction of tablets, smartphones, and Internet resources has radically changed the methods by which information is accessed. Mobile devices may provide faster and more convenient access to information for answering drug information (DI) questions by increasing accessibility to information at the point of care.3,4 They can also help health care providers access information via a large number of downloadable mobile applications (apps) instead of relying on access to the Internet.


These technology changes impact not only health care provider access to information but also patient access to medical information. Based on data from 2000 to 2015, 84% of American adults use the Internet to access information;5 35% of them access the Internet for medical and health information.6 It was estimated that about 500 million ...

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