Recommended

MedlinePlus – Diagnostic Tests

MedlinePlus's page focusing on diagnostic tests is a good starting point for information about tests used to diagnose and/or monitor illness. The section links to a variety outside resources about different types of diagnostic tests such as blood/laboratory tests, imaging, genetic testing, and diagnostic procedures. Links to more detail can be found by clicking on "Diagnostic Imaging" and "Laboratory Tests."

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Review Date: 11/9/2018

Scoring

Ease of Use

The section is organized intuitively, featuring an A-Z topic list that can be explored in detail by clicking any of the topics linked here. Each topic leads to a page with a brief summary of the test and numerous links to additional information. Because the unique nature of MedlinePlus, with its many links to outside resources, users must constantly jump from this site to others and then back again; the resulting navigation can be tedious.

Visual Design

The landing page has no visual appeal. All it is is a single list of topics linking to other pages on MedlinePlus.

Quality

Users will find links to a lot of information about laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging. Diagnostic procedure information is very limited. Inconsistent referencing make the reliability of each MedlinePlus page variable. Topics found in the medical encyclopedia are well referenced, while this is inconsistent for summaries of testing and information from linked sites. However, most links go to respected federal or specialty organization sites.

Credibility

MedlinePlus clearly identifies the organizations responsible for the content, which include the American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America, American Association for Clinical Chemistry, and National Library of Medicine. Users will find that the medical encyclopedia topics have the highest reliability by listing reviewers and date of last review. Although MedlinePlus does a great job updating its pages regularly, the currency of linked sites varies, and individual authors/editors of each topic page are not identified.

Pros

  1. Detailed list of resources about and related to various diagnostic tests
  2. Covers many different types of diagnostic tests including blood tests, imaging, genetic testing, and a few diagnostic procedures like colonoscopy and chorionic villi sampling
  3. Highly credible website with backing from the U.S. government and relying on materials generated by authoritative organizations

Cons

  1. There are very few diagnostic procedures included requiring users to seek other resources
  2. User-friendliness of materials vary depending on the external website referenced
  3. Users will have to spend significant time navigating and reading in order to get helpful information

Profile

Sponsors / Affiliations: The U.S. National Library of Medicine

Accreditations: None

Additional Features: Patient handouts, videos, images, relevant journal articles, specialist finder, research, health-check tools, clinical trials

Languages: English, Spanish

Contact: custserv@nlm.nih.gov

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