• The learning objectives for this module are:

    • Differentiate between types of resources available to assist in answering medicines information enquiries.
    • Describe general electronic and hard copy resources available to assist in answering medicines information enquiries.
    • Explain the function and use of bibliographic databases, including Medline® and Embase®
    • Outline search strategies and functionalities in bibliographic databases.
    • Identify drug information databases to assist in answering medicines information enquiries.
    • Identify factors to consider in assessing the quality of internet resources available for accessing medicines information.
    • Outline other resources available to assist in answering medicines information enquiries.

    Accreditation number for this module: S2019/91

    This activity has been accredited for 1.5 hours of Group-1 CPD (or 1.5 CPD credits), suitable for inclusion in an individual pharmacist’s CPD plan.


    The program addresses pharmacist competency standards, including:


    Standard 5.3.1 Identify information needs and resource requirements

    Standard 5.3.2 Retrieve relevant information/evidence in a timely manner

    Standard 5.3.3 Apply research evidence into practice

    (National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia, 2016)

  • Wikipedia, Google and other internet searches can help you find useful information, however, an internet search is not a reliable means of finding medicines information. Internet searches may be useful for:

    • background information
    • understanding what the public might be reading
    • information about street drugs and use patterns
    • availability of branded and/or foreign products
    • identification of drugs and herbal products
    • information or news about obscure or new treatments
    • details of clinical practice in other countries.

    Google Scholar is less precise than Medline and Embase and search results can be inconsistent, although it is sometimes useful for accessing full-text articles and conference abstracts.

    Most search engines include an “advanced search” function that will help target your search.

    Assessing quality

    Although many internet sites are reliable sources of information (e.g. NPS Medicinewise), some websites containing healthcare information are poorly evaluated, inaccurate and biased. To help you assess the quality of information, always consider the following points: 

    • Who are the authors?
      If the author is named, enter the name into Medline to see if they have published any work in a peer-reviewed journal.
    • Are there any references?
      Check if the information is referenced. Consider whether the information is based on fact or is an opinion.
    • Is the information current?
      Check if the information is up to date. Most webpages include the date of the last update.
    • Who owns or sponsors the site?
      Most websites include an ‘about us” or similar tab, or at least a link to contacts.  Is the site a not-for-profit (.org) or government (.gov) site and is it Australian (.au)? Is the owner or sponsor looking to make money or gain advantage from the information provided?
    • Who is the target audience?
      This should be made clear. Websites providing healthcare information to members of the public should direct them to healthcare professionals as appropriate.
    • Try to cross check the answer in another resource
      This applies to using any information resource but is particularly important with information on the internet, when you may be unsure of the quality.

    Useful Websites

    Exercise: from each of the categories below, choose one website. Try to navigate your way around the site and make a note of the type of information included on the site.

    Complementary and alternative medicine

    Evidence-based medicine

    Government and regulatory bodies

    Drug information databasesOther resources