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The provision of consumer health information and the role of hospital based libraries in Kenya: a survey

Ouma, S. The provision of consumer health information and the role of hospital based libraries in Kenya: a survey. Paper presented at the 11th AHILA Congress, held in Maputo, Mozambique 2008
Abstract / Summary: 
INTRODUCTION  Although information is appreciated to be an essential component of good healthcare, instituting health information systems and services, particularly for consumers is not a priority agenda for many hospitals.  The advocacy should be for the general need to promote the establishment of library services for hospital patients as consumers of health information.  Where this is not possible, services of external agencies could be sought so that information services reach this cadre of clientele.   THE SURVEY In order to address the issues above, a survey was instituted to find out the following among others: How many hospitals have libraries and information services that serve  patients as consumers of health information How many hospitals engage the services of professional librarians in sourcing and disseminating information to the consumers? Are consumer health information needs being identified and met and through which services, A questionnaire was administered to the selected hospitals and other healthcare institutions. Where a professional librarian was on board, his/her assistance was sought to interview consumers of health information.   FINDINGS The general overview is that no special attention has been given to the information needs of hospital patients as consumers of health information.  There is an assumption that patients get adequate information from their physicians, this seems to override all other initiatives that can be taken. Most hospitals operate health sciences libraries with restricted access, often limited to the hospital staff, doctors and nurses and where training takes place, the students. Interesting finding is that long-serving in-patients had no idea that libraries existed in the hospitals they were in while others sought to have better libraries and library services instituted for them.   CONCLUSION Based on these findings, recommendations are made for institution of library and information services for hospital patients in all hospitals and institutions offering health care services.  Such requirements should be entrenched into the country laws in order to take effect.  
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Ouma, S
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