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HONselect: A multilingual and Intelligent Search Tool
Integrating Heterogeneous Web resources
HONselect is a new meta-search engine offering a comprehensive collection of medical terms and corresponding pictures, bibliographic references, news and Web sites [1, 2, 3]. To the author's knowledge, no other search engine offers this level of innovation, ease of use and time-saving functionality. The 33,000 MeSH (Medical Subject Heading) terms - developed by the National Library of Medicine - that are at its core can be searched or navigated in English, French, German, Spanish or Portuguese. This multilingual capability, along with other unique features transforms the MeSH thesaurus into a powerful research tool [4, 5, 6]. Not only does it allow the user to search and navigate the hierarchy of medical terms and their definitions, it also integrates four separate databases. These are MEDLINE [7]- for bibliographic references corresponding to the term, with the possibility of refining the results further using criteria such as "therapy", "etiology", "prognosis", and "diagnosis", as well as "recall" or "precision" (these are intended for doctors and medical students) [4]; HONmedia, HON's own collection of links to 6,800 medical images, on 1,700 different topics, and classified according to MeSH nomenclature [8]; NewsPage, for daily medical news [9], and MedHunt [10], the full-text search engine developed by Health On the Net Foundation (HON) [11] and powered by the HON's proprietary robot MARVIN. HONselect's database also contains sites that have been reviewed by HON, as well as those adhering to HON's Code of Conduct for medical a health Web sites (HONcode) [12].
 
The HONselect search function checks automatically for spelling errors in three languages. The hierarchy resulting from a search is displayed in the language that the term was searched in, as are relevant Web sites. Using the 'translate' function, one can easily switch from one language to another so as to obtain additional and complementary information as well as the list of terms in one of the other two languages. MedHunt is also capable of narrowing a search down to Web sites in either French or English, and is currently also being updated to function in German.
 
HONselect's hierarchical organization offers educational opportunities for the layperson. A search for "diabetes", for instance, will yield: "Diabetes Insipidus", "Diabetes Insipidus Neurogenic", "Diabetes Insipidus Nephrogenic", "Diabetes Mellitus", "Diabetes Mellitus Insulin-Dependent", "Diabetes Mellitus Non-Insulin-Dependent", "Diabetes Mellitus Lipoatrophic", "Diabetes Mellitus Experimental", "Diabetes Gestational", "Pregnancy in Diabetes", "Obesity in Diabetes", "Glycosuria Renal", "Hypophosphatemia Familial". The user may then select the term of interest and refine his or her search.
 
This tool, available for free on the Web, combines powerful search capabilities and a vast, rich array of medical information with an intuitive interface. As such, it can be used by patient, doctor and student alike.

References:

[1] HONselect in English http://www.hon.ch/HONselect/
[2] HONselect in French http://www.hon.ch/HONselect/index_f.html
[3] HONselect in German http://www.hon.ch/HONselect/index_d.html
[4] HONselect's collection of resources for "Diabetes Mellitus" http://www.hon.ch/cgi-bin/HONselect?browse+C18.452.297
[5] HONselect's collection of resources for "Diabetes Mellitus" in French http://www.hon.ch/cgi-bin/HONselect_f?browse+C18.452.297
[6] HONselect's collection of resources for "Diabetes Mellitus" in German http://www.hon.ch/cgi-bin/HONselect_de?browse+C18.452.297
[7] MEDLINE http://www.nlm.nih.gov/databases/freemedl.html
[8] HONmedia http://www.hon.ch/HONmedia/
[9] NEWSPage http://www.individual.com/
[10] MedHunt http://www.hon.ch/MedHunt/
[11] HON http://www.hon.ch/
[12] HONcode http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/


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