Health Topics

Personal health issues

Understanding Medical Research
National Library of Medicine
Medical Research

It seems to happen almost every day - you hear about the results of a new medical research study. Sometimes the results of one study seem to disagree with the results of another study.

It's important to be critical when reading or listening to reports of new medical findings. Some questions that can help you evaluate health information include:

  • Was the study in animals or people?
  • Does the study include people like you?
  • How big was the study?
  • Was it a randomized controlled clinical trial?
  • Where was the research done?
  • If a new treatment was being tested, were there side effects?
  • Who paid for the research?
  • Who is reporting the results?

NIH: National Institutes of Health


Biomedical Research
Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
Social/Family Issues
Personal Health Issues
It seems to happen almost every day - you hear about the results of a new medical research study. Sometimes the results of one study seem to disagree with ...
End of Life Issues
National Library of Medicine
Death and Dying
Terminal Care

Planning for the end of life can be difficult. But by deciding what end-of-life care best suits your needs when you are healthy, you can help those close to you make the right choices when the time comes.

End-of-life planning usually includes making choices about the following:

  • The goals of care (for example, whether to use certain medicines during the last days of life)
  • Where you want to spend your final days
  • Which treatments for end-of-life care you wish to receive
  • What type of palliative care and hospice care you wish to receive

Advance directives can help make your wishes clear to your family and health care providers.


Death
Social/Family Issues
Personal Health Issues
Planning for the end of life can be difficult. But by deciding what end-of-life care best suits your needs when you are healthy, you can help those close to you ...
Personal Health Records
National Library of Medicine
Confidentiality
Electronic Health Records
HIPAA
Patient Portals
Patient Records
Privacy
Patient health record

You've probably seen your chart at your doctor's office. In fact, you may have charts at several doctors' offices. If you've been in the hospital, you have a chart there, too. These charts are your medical records. They may be on paper or electronic. To keep track of all this information, it's a good idea to keep your own personal health record.

What kind of information would you put in a personal health record? You could start with

  • Your name, birth date, blood type, and emergency contact information
  • Date of last physical
  • Dates and results of tests and screenings
  • Major illnesses and surgeries, with dates
  • A list of your medicines and supplements, the dosages, and how long you've taken them
  • Any allergies
  • Any chronic diseases
  • Any history of illnesses in your family

Meaningful Use
Health Records, Personal
Social/Family Issues
Health System
Personal Health Issues
You've probably seen your chart at your doctor's office. In fact, you may have charts at several doctors' offices. If you've been in the hospital, you have ...
Advance Directives
National Library of Medicine
Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders
Living Wills
Resuscitation Orders

What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes? Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell out your decisions about end-of-life care ahead of time. They give you a way to tell your wishes to family, friends, and health care professionals and to avoid confusion later on.

A living will tells which treatments you want if you are dying or permanently unconscious. You can accept or refuse medical care. You might want to include instructions on

  • The use of dialysis and breathing machines
  • If you want to be resuscitated if your breathing or heartbeat stops
  • Tube feeding
  • Organ or tissue donation

A durable power of attorney for health care is a document that names your health care proxy. Your proxy is someone you trust to make health decisions for you if you are unable to do so.

NIH: National Cancer Institute


Advance Directives
Social/Family Issues
Personal Health Issues
What kind of medical care would you want if you were too ill or hurt to express your wishes? Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to spell ...
Medical Ethics
National Library of Medicine
Bioethics

The field of ethics studies principles of right and wrong. There is hardly an area in medicine that doesn't have an ethical aspect. For example, there are ethical issues relating to

  • End of life care: Should a patient receive nutrition? What about advance directives and resuscitation orders?
  • Abortion: When does life begin? Is it ethical to terminate a pregnancy with a birth defect?
  • Genetic and prenatal testing: What happens if you are a carrier of a defect? What if testing shows that your unborn baby has a defect?
  • Birth control: Should it be available to minors?
  • Is it ethical to harvest embryonic stem cells to treat diseases?
  • Organ donation: Must a relative donate an organ to a sick relative?
  • Your personal health information: who has access to your records?
  • Patient rights: Do you have the right to refuse treatment?
  • When you talk with your doctor, is it ethical for her to withhold information from you or your family?

Ethics, Medical
Social/Family Issues
Health System
Personal Health Issues
The field of ethics studies principles of right and wrong. There is hardly an area in medicine that doesn't have an ethical aspect. For example, there are ...
Talking With Your Doctor
National Library of Medicine
Communicating With Your Healthcare Provider
Second Opinion

How well you and your doctor communicate with each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Being prepared can help make the most of your visit. Here are some things you can bring:

  • Lists of your concerns, any allergies and all the medicines, herbs, or vitamins you take
  • A description of symptoms - when they started, what makes them better
  • A trusted friend or family member
  • A way to take notes during your appointment

Make sure you understand your diagnosis and any treatments. Ask your health care provider to write down his or her instructions to you. If you still have trouble understanding, ask where you can go for more information.


Dentist-Patient Relations
Physician-Patient Relations
Nurse-Patient Relations
Social/Family Issues
Health System
Personal Health Issues
How well you and your doctor communicate with each other is one of the most important parts of getting good health care. Being prepared can help make the ...
Choosing a Doctor or Health Care Service
National Library of Medicine

We all want high-quality health care, but it's hard to know how to choose. There are many things to consider, including

  • What your insurance covers
  • Whether a health care provider or service is accredited
  • The location of a service
  • Hours that the service is available
  • Whether you like a health care provider's personality

On this page you'll find information to help you choose a health care provider or service.


Physician-Patient Relations
Delivery of Health Care
Health System
Personal Health Issues
We all want high-quality health care, but it's hard to know how to choose. There are many things to consider, including What your insurance covers Whether ...
Clinical Trials
National Library of Medicine

Clinical trials are research studies that test how well new medical approaches work in people. Each study answers scientific questions and tries to find better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose, or treat a disease. Clinical trials may also compare a new treatment to a treatment that is already available.

Every clinical trial has a protocol, or action plan, for conducting the trial. The plan describes what will be done in the study, how it will be conducted, and why each part of the study is necessary. Each study has its own rules about who can take part. Some studies need volunteers with a certain disease. Some need healthy people. Others want just men or just women.

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviews, monitors, and approves many clinical trials. It is an independent committee of physicians, statisticians, and members of the community. Its role is to

  • Make sure that the study is ethical
  • Protect the rights and welfare of the participants
  • Make sure that the risks are reasonable when compared to the potential benefits

In the United States, a clinical trial must have an IRB if it is studying a drug, biological product, or medical device that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates, or it is funded or carried out by the federal government.

NIH: National Institutes of Health


Clinical Trials as Topic
Personal Health Issues
Clinical trials are research studies that test how well new medical approaches work in people. Each study answers scientific questions and tries to find better ...
Evaluating Health Information
National Library of Medicine

Millions of consumers get health information from magazines, TV or the Internet. Some of the information is reliable and up to date; some is not. How can you tell the good from the bad?

First, consider the source. If you use the Web, look for an "about us" page. Check to see who runs the site: Is it a branch of the government, a university, a health organization, a hospital or a business? Focus on quality. Does the site have an editorial board? Is the information reviewed before it is posted? Be skeptical. Things that sound too good to be true often are. You want current, unbiased information based on research.

NIH: National Library of Medicine


Internet
Wellness and Lifestyle
Personal Health Issues
Millions of consumers get health information from magazines, TV or the Internet. Some of the information is reliable and up to date; some is not. How can you ...
Health Literacy
National Library of Medicine

Health literacy refers to how well a person can get the health information and services that they need, and how well they understand them. It is also about using them to make good health decisions. It involves differences that people have in areas such as

  • Access to information that they can understand
  • Skills, such as finding that information, communicating with health care providers, living a healthy lifestyle, and managing a disease
  • Knowledge of medical words, and of how their health care system works
  • Abilities, such as physical or mental limitations
  • Personal factors, such as age, education, language abilities, and culture

More than 90 million adults in the United States have low health literacy. It affects their ability to make health decisions. This can harm their health. They may have trouble managing chronic diseases, and leading a healthy lifestyle. They may go to the hospital more often, and have poorer health overall.

NIH: National Institutes of Health


Health Literacy
Wellness and Lifestyle
Personal Health Issues
Health literacy refers to how well a person can get the health information and services that they need, and how well they understand them. It is also about ...