EBSCO Information Services' Editorial Policy
EBSCO Information Services is a leader in publishing health and medical information on the Internet. While we make every effort to ensure that our content is based on scientific evidence and reflects current standards of care, the information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for the clinical services provided by physicians and other health professionals. The purpose of our content is only to provide users with health information and access to related resources. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider before arriving at a diagnosis or embarking on a course of treatment.
Nature of EBSCO Information Services Content
EBSCO Information Services provides 2 main sources of content: proprietary and licensed.
To the extent possible, EBSCO Information Services' proprietary health information: 1) is evidence-based, 2) reflects national clinical practice guidelines, 3) is free of racial, gender, or other bias, and 4) undergoes a rigorous, multi-layered review before it reaches customers. Proprietary content is developed using a number of medical sources:
- Professional journals
- Government health agencies
- National healthcare associations
- Academic departments
- Newswire reports
All of EBSCO Information Services' proprietary content is written by in-house writers/editors or contract writers. All in-house staff writers/editors have degrees in public health, health communication, or related fields and are under the supervision of a Medical Director, who is a licensed physician. Contract writers are either healthcare professionals with experience writing for a consumer audience or hold advanced degrees in health journalism, public health, or related fields.
Proprietary content is reviewed on a scheduled basis by in-house physicians, which includes the Medical Director, and by members of the EBSCO Information Services Medical Review Board, an external review board consisting of licensed physicians and allied healthcare professionals. The EBSCO Information Services Medical Review Board is comprised of physicians or medical professionals (RD, RN, etc.) with expertise in a wide range of areas, including oncology, psychiatry, neurology, pediatrics, internal medicine, orthopedics, geriatrics, cardiology, family practice, genetics, infectious disease, and health policy. They are experts in their respective fields, and have affiliations with some of the finest medical and research institutions in the world. Information regarding the EBSCO Information Services Medical Review Board is available online or upon request.
All Medical Review Board members are required to submit evidence of professional credentials and licensure to EBSCO Information Services. Medical Review Board members are required to notify EBSCO Information Services in a timely manner of any adverse change in licensure or certification status. In response to adverse changes in licensure or certification status, EBSCO Information Services may implement corrective action, including cancellation or non-extension of the employment agreement.
No member is placed in the position of providing clinical services.
Proprietary content is medically reviewed and/or revised on a scheduled basis, depending on the nature of the content and how rapidly it is likely to change. In addition, procedures are in place to ensure that "emergency" updates, such as a drug being removed from the marketplace, occur within 1 week of the original announcement.
A Medical Review Board member will survey existing records to determine if updates or changes are needed as a result of new scientific findings in the area. Records that have no new information will be identified and updated with the Medical Reviewer’s name, credentials, and most recent review date. Records that do require update will be updated or changed by the Medical Review Board as needed, based on new scientific findings in the area. These records will then be updated in our collection with the Medical Reviewer’s name and credentials, as well as any applicable references used and most recent review date.
Content is also updated continuously as important evidence that is sufficient to change consumer health information. Consumer Health leverages the systematic surveillance of literature process of other EBSCO Information Services point-of-care products to update the content.
Content in the Consumer Health falls into three categories. The following is the update schedule for each category of content:
- Top Tier Content—This content includes condition fact sheets, procedure facts sheets, and articles in the Centers of Excellence. This content is scheduled for review within a 12-month period. Articles are updated if they have become outdated. These articles may be updated more frequently as a result of new studies that impact the patient information contained within the fact sheet format.
- Middle Tier Content—This content includes wellness and therapeutic articles. This content is scheduled for review within a 12- or 24-month period. Outdated articles are updated, rewritten, or removed from the collection.
- Historic/Timeless Content—This content includes current research in top journals, interviews, recipes, and more. This collection of articles is reviewed by medical professionals as part of the creation process. This content is not updated nor is it updated very frequently, as it reflects a historic/timeless content type (interviews, summaries of research, etc.), and therefore does not require a regular review/update.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Content
EBSCO Information Services provides extensive information in the area of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Encyclopedic CAM content (Natural & Alternative Treatments (NAT)) is written and reviewed by physician experts in the field of CAM, cited extensively, and updated regularly. No claims of therapeutic benefit are made without adequate citations from the medical literature.
EBSCO Information Services licenses certain content sources from third-party vendors. Due diligence is performed before an agreement for distribution rights is negotiated with the content supplier.
Before licensing any content from third-party providers, EBSCO Information Services determines that, at a minimum, the content source is: (1) evidence-based and consistent with national practice guidelines (where applicable), (2) reviewed and updated by the licensee according to a regular, pre-determined schedule, and (3) free of racial, gender, or other biases. EBSCO Information Services assesses whether its licensed content sources continue to meet these standards on an ongoing basis.
EBSCO Information Services’ licensed content is provided by the following vendors:
AHFS Consumer Medication Information, published by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists contains drug information monographs written in lay language for consumers. AHFS is available in Spanish and is updated monthly.
Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary
Provides definitions of more than 55,000 medical terms.
Consumer Health News
A selected medical news service that provides consumer health information updates on a daily basis. Currently provided through a partnership with HealthDay News.
Customers who license the Health Library content agree to the terms and conditions contained within the license. Of particular importance are the terms regarding editing, modifying, and/or deleting content. Customers who wish to edit the content must abide by the existing ‘Terms and Conditions for Editing Health Library Content’ included in the Health Library license agreement.
EBSCO Information Services may make co-branded content available on its website. Due diligence and detailed content review must be performed before any agreement is negotiated with a co-branding partner. Before agreeing to host co-branded content, EBSCO Information Services determines that, at a minimum, the content source is: (1) evidence-based and consistent with national practice guidelines (where applicable), (2) reviewed and updated on a regular, pre-determined schedule, (3) includes no advertisements in any way related to the nature of the content, and (4) free of racial, gender, or other biases.
Citation and Authoring
EBSCO Information Services maintains different guidelines pertaining to different types of proprietary content.
Healthy Living Centers/Wellness Centers, Journal Notes/Current Research from Top Journals, and Material Based on Clinical Experience or Scholarly Research
Bylines are provided for the Healthy Living Centers/Wellness Lifestyle Centers (eg, Women's Health, Food & Nutrition, and Aging & Health), Journal Notes, and any material based on clinical experience or scholarly research. Where contractually feasible, all authors’ names link to his or her biography.
Health content based on clinical experience or scholarly research is substantiated by a majority of references that are no more than five years old and that appeared originally in peer-reviewed journals, medical texts or papers, findings from government agencies and/or medical associations, or presentations at major medical meetings. The Medical Director has the final discretion over whether a reference meets the standard for substantiating claims based on clinical experience or scholarly research.
Rather than list citations, articles provide “resources,” which refer readers to appropriate related websites. This format is based on the print model of health magazines. In addition, writers are asked to provide source material for their articles, which are fact-checked as deemed necessary.
References are listed on all Journal Notes articles. They are listed in many Healthy Living Center/Wellness Center articles as well.
Where contractually feasible, database-type content (eg, Conditions InDepth; Conditions InBrief) will be authored, and the author's name will link to his or her biography. Database-type content is heavily cited. Allowable citations for this type of content include:
- Journal articles (must include journal name, article title, volume, date, and page)
- Medical books (must include book name, edition, publication date, and publisher)
- Affiliated associations or agencies (must include association name and URL)
We do not require that citations from associations and agencies list specific articles, since in some cases they do not provide specific articles (CDC, for example, provides statistics and charts).
Advertising and Sponsorship
EBSCO is funded by institutional subscriptions to its databases. To ensure that EBSCO Information Services content remains scientifically balanced and commercially unbiased, we accept no advertising or sponsorship which ensures all content is unbiased. This also applies to any co-branded content. EBSCO Information Services will not require or encourage an author to promote a product, device, or service.
Conflict of Interest
EBSCO Information Services' authors and reviewers may not engage, as an owner, director, employee, consultant, or otherwise, in any business or other activity that could reasonably be expected to bias or otherwise adversely affect or impact their ability to perform in an accurate, unbiased, impartial, and complete manner and in accordance with generally accepted professional standards.
Links to external websites are selected based on an individual author’s assessment of: (1) source, (2) accuracy, (3) relevance, and (4) balance. In-house editors review the selected external websites. The Medical Director has final discretion as to whether an embedded link meets these criteria. All content links are routinely checked for functionality. This process includes removing or correcting non-functioning links.
Claims of Therapeutic Benefit
Claims of therapeutic benefit must be substantiated by a majority of references that are no more than five years old and that appeared originally in peer-reviewed journals, medical texts, or papers presented at major medical meetings. The Medical Director has the final discretion over whether or not a reference meets the standard for substantiating therapeutic benefit.
EBSCO Information Services’ interactive calculators are designed to provide general results based on input provided by the user that is calculated against measurements or assessments considered standard by various government agencies, including the USDA, CDC, and FDA. The inputted information will consist only of single values (eg, anthropometric values, age, smoking status, and activity levels) not detailed clinical information, and the results will not indicate or suggest a specific course of action unique to the user, other than suggesting clinical follow-up with his or her physician.
EBSCO Information Services' risk assessors will offer general, non-numeric results about a user’s potential degree of risk of various chronic conditions. They will be based on questionnaires that have been either adopted by major government agencies or institutions or have been validated by studies in the published medical literature. The results, which are generated from users’ single value or yes/no responses to a list of specific questions, will constitute no more than the advice to clinically follow-up with a physician for further evaluation. Treatment recommendations will never be made, and identifiable health information will neither be requested nor recorded.
There must be a statement on the website associated with all self-assessment tools indicating its source, scientific basis, and the date of the last review or update.
Last reviewed November 2017 by EBSCO Information Services Consumer Health Editorial Staff Last Updated: 11/2/2017