Note: the following column was published in the Cilip Gazette (click access the current edition) for 20 May – 2 June 2010. They have kindly allowed me to republish it here.
Health is sort of on the agenda, this being election time. But more importantly, we are only a couple of short months away from the Health Libraries Group (HLG) conference in Manchester in July. I have included health blogs as well as health informatics blogs because clinical bloggers are both prolific and interesting.
Health and health information blogs run the gamut. The least useful are pitiful excuses for blogs that advertise medical schools and quick fixes for weight loss-there seem to be an endless number of these. The best are a few frequently updated, eloquent discussions of how best to use biomedical databases, the future of web search thanks to new developments such as Facebook’s Open Graph, and how best to be a health librarian. Krafty Librarian has covered all these topics, recently, and many more.
When I started writing this column (almost two years ago) I highlighted a blog by a clever and dedicated Dutch health informationist nicknamed Laika. She is now a twitterer who is a font of information, as well as the caretaker of Medlibs Round- a monthly showcase of newsworthy blog posts in this area. It is also a great discovery tool for new blogs. Dean Giustini is an informationist working in Vancouver who had a superb post called ‘Liability and the Health Information Professional.’ Liability is not the first thing on my mind when supplying information to a colleague or a client- but it is important especially for those working at an HE or public sector reference desk.
If I had to limit myself to reading one blog…well, I wouldn’t be able to! So I have chosen the best all-round informative, conversational and authoritative blogs. Whoops- maybe I should take a moment to declare a competing interest? This blog! Two of my colleagues will be presenting at the HLG conference talking about “collaborative blogging for health, fun and, erm profit”. I urge you to check it out-they are the brains behind this operation.
Best Health Information blogs
Laika is the keeper the Medlibs Round archive, a monthly blog carnival that is hosted at different healthy blogs. It is a round-up of recent and interesting posts from the blogosphere.
The Search Principle
This blog is Dean Giustini’s pride and joy. Dean is a professor at SLAIS, University of BC where he teaches social media and health informatics. Dean has a knack for having his finger on the pulse of the health informatics profession. He recently blogged on Blackbird Pie, an unofficial Twitter tool to allow you to snip a tweet and paste it, with all of its formatting and visual glory, into your blog post.
Krafty is our friendly, helpful American medical librarian. She is dedicated to sharing what other bloggers are up to as well as posting excellent original content.
Best Medical Blogs
The granddad of the MedBlog Rounds and a thoughtful blogger. Mr Blogborygmi also contributes to Emergency Physicians Monthly-recently he blogged on the iPad and its potential to be a much more user-friendly addition to the ER- but first administrators need to warm to it and developers need to craft some clever apps for patient care.
Dr. Shock does not subscribe to the typical clinician/ librarian dichotomy- his blog has hosted the Medlibs Round in January 2010 and his scope includes anything medical (or not) that is of interest. A recent post discussed empathy across different medical specialities-psychiatrists score the highest (perhaps no surprise there).
Do you like your nurse bloggers to have a healthy dose of sarcasm? This one is brilliant and makes me laugh- can’t really ask for any more. But there is more- a great post on synesthesia (when the sensory ‘wiring’ overlaps and sounds, for instance, are perceived as visual patterns or tastes or scents) and another on how to survive your first months as a nurse (“Pee.” Yes, really.).
A fascinating subgenre of health and medical blogs- the mission of these blogs is to uncover quackery and ‘pseudoscience’ in health. Ben Goldacre is the voice of scepticism in the press- he blogs at Bad Science.
This blog attracts a huge number of comments- a post on 6 May criticising the Huffington Post received 68 comments in its first day. (Note: In a world where one or two comments are vastly appreciated, especially to a novice blogger, 68 boggles the mind.) Orac blogs at length on all sort of quackery- baloney cures for autism, homeopathy, known quacks as well as medical cases and general science. Very engrossing- I find myself reading for hours.
The Quackometer features health news, especially relating to treatments which are not supported by science, such as homeopathy, mysticism, and other ‘alternative’ medicine. David Brooks, candidate with the Science Party blogged recently to clarify his position on homeopathy- Brooks had previously argued that homeopathy was an effective placebo (and doctors love a good placebo). However, studies have shown that homeopathy does not show value for money, even as a placebo. Let’s hope that none of the 70 MPs signing the Early Day Motion, a motion to have these homeopathy-critical studies ignored, have been re-elected.