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Maximizing Questionnaire Response Rates

The American Medical Association has specific recommendations for its authors about questionnaire response rates included in the JAMA Instructions for Authors. One of the guidelines is that survey studies should have sufficient response rates (generally at least 60%) and appropriate characterization of nonresponders to ensure that nonresponse bias does not threaten the validity of the findings. However, response rates to questionnaires have been declining over the past 20 years, as reported by the Pew Research Center in The Problem of Declining Response Rates. Fortunately, suggestions about increasing questionnaire response rates are available in two recent AEA365 blog posts that are open access:

Additional useful advice, such as making questionnaires short, personalizing your mailings, and sending full reminder packs to nonrespondents, is included in this open access article: Sahlqvist S, et al., “Effect of questionnaire length, personalisation and reminder type on response rate to a complex postal survey: randomised controlled trial.” BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011, 11:62.

MedlinePlus Connect now Supports ICD-10-CM!

MedlinePlus ConnectMedlinePlus Connect now supports queries using ICD-10-CM codes. Upon receiving a problem code request with an ICD-10-CM code, MedlinePlus Connect returns relevant, patient-friendly health information from MedlinePlus, Genetics Home Reference, and other reliable health resources. MedlinePlus Connect will continue to support ICD-9-CM and SNOMED CT codes for problem code requests.

Learn more on the MedlinePlus Connect Web application documentation and Web service documentation webpages!

April 2014 Issue of NIH News in Health is Now Available!

Cartoon of a “No-Smoking” sign in an open outdoor area, with nearby people enjoying a picnic lunch.Check out the April issue of NIH News in Health, the monthly newsletter bringing you practical health news and tips based on the latest NIH research. In this issue:

  • Stamp Out Smoking: Tobacco-Free Living
    Most of us know that smoking is unhealthy. So why do so many people still do it? The answers are complex. Researchers have found effective ways to help people quit smoking—or prevent them from starting in the first place. The tricky part is putting these tools to use. We can all take steps to help stamp out smoking.
  • The Sting of Shingles: Vaccine, Treatments Reduce Risks
    If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you may be at risk for a painful disease called shingles as you grow older. Shingles is a sometimes-agonizing skin rash and nerve disease that’s caused by a virus. Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent shingles or ease its serious effects.
  • Nurse Staffing Affects Patient Safety
    Having well-educated nurses with fewer patients to care for can help reduce hospital deaths, a new study suggests. The findings can help hospitals make informed decisions about staff schedules and hiring.
  • Featured Website: Understanding Health News
    News stories about complementary approaches to health can sometimes be misleading. They might lack key details, or they may be confusing or conflicting. This site can help you assess news stories about complementary health approaches, so you can make informed decisions about your health.

NIH News in Health is available online in both HTML and PDF formats. Print copies are available free of charge for offices, clinics, community centers, and libraries within the U.S.

Visit the NIH News in Health Facebook page to suggest topics you’d like to see covered, or share what you find helpful about the newsletter!

DOCLINE Tip of the Month: Electronic Fund Transfer System (EFTS)

Tugger the DOCLINE Mascot

Question: What is EFTS?

Answer: The Electronic Fund Transfer System or EFTS is a transaction-based electronic billing system developed by the University of Connecticut Health Center for interlibrary loan and document delivery charges. It has been operational in New England since 1996 and is available at “https://efts.uchc.edu.”

In the Pacific Southwest Region, over 65% of DOCLINE libraries are EFTS participants. All DOCLINE libraries are encouraged to join. DOCLINE provides an EFTS Transaction File Builder to create the transaction file of charges to upload to EFTS for billing borrowers. EFTS reduces the need to create invoices and to process reimbursement checks for interlibrary loans between participants. It also provides monthly detailed transaction reports, the ability to handle differential charges (such as additional rush or fax charges), the ability to vary charges to members of special groups, and the ability to handle non-DOCLINE transactions.

EFTS also:

  • Reduces interlibrary loan associated costs and improves cash flow
  • Assists with collection development monitoring
  • Reduces human error and increases efficiency
  • Provides management reports
  • The National Library of Medicine is committed to working with the University of Connecticut Health Center EFTS staff to expand the system on a national basis to DOCLINE libraries.

The University of Connecticut Health Center has an EFTS FAQ available. If you have any questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-338-7657 or e-mail us at psr-nnlm@library.ucla.edu!

NLM Launches New Exhibition-related Resources: Online Adaptation of “Pick Your Poison,” Educational Resources for “From DNA to Beer”

Advertisement for medicinal drops to relieve toothache, Lloyd Manufacturing Co., 1885The National Library of Medicine has launched an online adaptation of Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions, an exhibition with education resources that features items from the National Library of Medicine’s historical collection as well as the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Mind-altering drugs have been used throughout the history of America. While some remain socially acceptable, such as alcohol and nicotine, others, like heroin and cocaine, are now outlawed because of their toxic, and intoxicating, characteristics. These classifications have shifted at different times in history, and will continue to change. This exhibition explores some of the factors that have shaped the changing definition of some of our most potent drugs.

Pick Your Poison includes a “Digital Gallery,” a selection of digitized, historical texts from the History of Medicine Division’s diverse collections, providing viewers new avenues to explore beyond the exhibition. Education resources include a lesson plan for grades 10-12 that investigates the exhibition content; two higher education modules; and an online activity. In addition, the web feature “Additional Resources at NLM” includes a selection of published contemporary articles on the various substances featured in the exhibition, available through PMC, which provides free access to over 2.8 million life science journal articles.

The online adaption of From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry is expanded to include education resources. From DNA to Beer explores some of the processes, problems, and potential inherent in technologies that use life such as antibiotics and human growth hormones. The education resources delve into different aspects of the exhibition content, and include a lesson plan for grades 7-9; a higher education module; and an array of eight online activities. In addition, Additional Resources at NLM includes a selection of molecular models of the various bacteria and proteins related to the exhibition narrative, which are provided by the National Center of Biotechnology Information.

New Search Interface for the NLM IndexCat Database

The National Library of Medicine has announced the launch of a new user interface for the IndexCat database, which offers a faster response time to searches; full record displays in search results; and record sorting and refinements. NLM uses the same search engine for its main Web site, as well as MedlinePlus, MedlinePlus en Español, the Directory of the History of Medicine Collections search engine, and the History of Medicine Finding Aids Consortium.

IndexCat simultaneously searches the digitized version of the printed Index-Catalogue of the Library of the Surgeon General’s Office; eTK for medieval Latin texts; and eVK2 for medieval English texts; and LocatorPlus. A post in the NLM Circulating Now blog offers additional information on IndexCat. There also are a number of new and revised FAQs and Help pages to assist with searching IndexCat. Additional details and illustrations are available in the most recent edition of the NLM Technical Bulletin.

NIHSeniorHealth.gov offers Comprehensive Information on End of Life

Screenshot of NIHSeniorHealth End of Life moduleA new Web resource from the National Institutes of Health is aimed at helping people address a sensitive subject—the end of life. The latest addition to NIHSeniorHealth.gov, the health and wellness website for older adults, the End of Life module provides visitors with information about the most common issues faced by the dying and their caregivers. The End of Life module describes the physical, mental, and emotional needs of people nearing the end of life and suggests ways to maintain their quality of life, such as hospice and home care. It also addresses the often complex practical concerns that can attend death, including financial issues, advance directives, caregiver support, and more. Other topics include:

  • Addressing pain
  • Types and places of end-of-life care
  • Planning and paying for end-of-life care
  • Handling health care issues
  • When the end comes
  • Coping with grief
  • Research efforts

The End of Life module joins an impressive roster of research-based health topics geared toward older adults, including exercise and physical activity, long-term care, safe use of medicines and management of diseases such as stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. A joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), NIHSeniorHealth.gov is designed to be senior friendly and is tailored to the cognitive and visual needs of older adults. The short, easy-to-read segments of information, large print, open captioned videos, and simple navigation make the information on the site easy for older adults to find, see, and understand.

Health Literacy Leadership Institute June 9-13, 2014 at Tufts University

Enrollment is now available for the Health Literacy Leadership Institute, June 9-13, 2014, offered through the Health Communication Program at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. This one-week Institute is designed for professionals committed to improving the health literacy of healthcare providers and the public. Those working in health literacy and students interested in pursuing careers in health literacy are encouraged to attend.

Participants learn from faculty and guest instructors highly regarded for their pioneering work in medical education, adult literacy, and program evaluation. Peer learning and the sharing of research and best practice are central to the Institute’s educational approach. During the course of the week, participants work on a health literacy project of their choice resulting in a final product that is current, comprehensive, informed by research, and reflective of best practice.

NLM’s TOXNET and TOXMAP Now Include TRI 2012 Data

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) TOXNET TRI and TOXMAP now include the TRI 2012 National Analysis data, the most current final information available. The Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), a resource of the US EPA, is a set of publicly available databases containing information on releases of specific toxic chemicals and their management as waste, as reported annually by US industrial and federal facilities. This inventory was established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986. TRI’s data, beginning with the 1987 reporting year, covers air, water, land, and underground injection releases, as well as transfers to waste sites. In agreement with the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, source reduction and recycling data is also included in TRI.

21,024 facilities reported to the TRI program in 2012 as required by EPCRA, with almost 80,000 submissions. A complete list of TRI chemicals required to be reported is available on EPA web site. TOXMAP maps on-site TRI releases and also includes EPA Superfund data.

Free Images for Evaluation Reports!

The current trend in evaluation reporting is toward fewer words and more images. There are a number of companies that offer high-quality, royalty free photographs at minimal cost. Stockfresh, for example, charges as little as $1 per image. However, no-cost is even better than low-cost. Freelancers Union, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting freelance workers, recently published a list of the best websites for no-cost images. If you are looking for free images for your presentations or reports, check out their article, which also describes the difference between public domain, royalty-free and Creative Commons-licensed images.