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MedlinePlus Quality Guidelines

MedlinePlus is designed to help you find appropriate, authoritative health information. To do this, we provide access to information produced by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, such as searches of MEDLINE/PubMed, our database that indexes medical research literature, and, the database of research studies from the National Institutes of Health. We also provide you with a database of full-text drug and supplement information, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, a medical dictionary, interactive health tutorials, and the latest health news.

In addition, MedlinePlus contains pages that link to other Web sites. For example, we have Health Topic pages for over 900 diseases and conditions from Alzheimer's Disease to West Nile Virus. We focus on organizing the full-text publications produced by the NIH Institutes and other Federal Government organizations. We also link to other Web sites. The quality guidelines we use in evaluating links to Web pages are listed below.

For MedlinePlus Connect, MedlinePlus identifies some materials for patients to access from Electronic Health Records. These materials are usually short overviews of diseases, conditions, and therapies written for patients, in an easily printable format. These materials must meet our existing quality guidelines.

Quality, authority and accuracy of health content

  • The organization's mission must relate to the goals of MedlinePlus.
  • The organization must provide accurate, science-based information that complements or enhances the government information found on MedlinePlus.
  • The source of the content is established, respected and dependable. The organization publishes a list of advisory board members or consultants on the site.
  • The information provided is appropriate to the audience level, well-organized and easy to use.
  • MedlinePlus links to original content. MedlinePlus does not link to information reproduced from other Web sites.
  • Lists of links are evaluated/reviewed/quality-filtered.

The primary purpose of the Web page is educational and not to sell a product or service. Most content is available at no charge.

  • MedlinePlus requires a clear differentiation between content and advertising. There should be an advertising policy on the site. Advertisers or sponsors must not play a role in selecting or editing health information.
  • MedlinePlus will exclude organizations and Web resources if presentation or content could lead a reasonable user to infer endorsement of products or services.
  • MedlinePlus provides links to directories to help you find health professionals, services, and facilities. NLM does not endorse or recommend the organizations that produce these directories, or the individuals or organizations that are included in the directories.

Availability and maintenance of the Web page

  • The Web site is consistently available.
  • The Web site maintains its links to outside sources.
  • The Web site links only to reliable sources.
  • The source for the contents of the Web page(s) and the entity responsible for maintaining the Web site (webmaster, organization, creator of the content) is clear.
  • Information is current or an update date is included.
  • Registration is not required to view the information on the site.

Special features

  • The site provides unique information to the topic with a minimum of redundancy and overlap between resources.
  • The site contains special features such as graphics/diagrams, glossary, or other unique information.
  • The content of the site is accessible to persons with disabilities.