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Website of the Week — PatientInform.org


Here at VOA we often report about the latest medical research. Scientists publish their findings in academic journals. But unless you are a specialist, those papers are pretty tough to read. Plus, they are usually expensive to obtain, unless you have access to a university library. Our Website of the Week tries to address both those concerns.

PatientInform.org provides free access to papers published in some medical journals while, at the same time, adding material that helps explain the latest research in a way that ordinary folks can understand. Brian Crawford, now with the American Chemical Society and a veteran of the scientific publishing industry, says the idea was hatched several years ago.

"The principle was rather simple: that we wanted to join with voluntary health organizations to provide an interpretive layer that would link the primary research content that many of us offer and provide that to patients in a way that could make a difference in their understanding of their medical conditions."

Partners in PatientInform.org include groups like the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.

Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu, U.S. Deputy Surgeon General, says the concept of the new website is similar to what his office does - issuing what he called the "comic book" versions of important research reports - short, easy-to-read booklets written for patients, not doctors.

"Because information comes at you from all different directions and in all different manners, and it's important to be able to communicate that information to the individual in such a fashion that the individual can hear it, can understand it, can embrace it, and then put it into action."

When you visit the Patient Inform website, you can link to the latest research about cancer, heart disease, diabetes and some other conditions, with more expected to be added as new partners sign on. And it’s all free.

There's also important background information about medical studies in general and how they are conducted and published. It’s all online at patientInform.org, or get the link from our site, voanews.com.

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