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About ECRI Institute's National Patient Library™

Historically, the audience for ECRI Institute's work has been healthcare professionals. ECRI Institute's intention in the 21st century is to provide a unique repository of healthcare information for consumers. Just as healthcare professionals have the U.S National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine as the premier repository for peer-reviewed published clinical literature, ECRI Institute envisions a National Patient Library™ that provides one stop for objective, balanced, trustworthy, evidence-based healthcare information for patients and consumers. The intent is to equip patients and consumers with the information and decision tools they need to understand and weigh the risks and benefits of their healthcare treatment options. In this way, they can work with healthcare professionals to weigh risks and benefits and decide what to do.

Producing meaningful patient-oriented information first requires listening to patients describe their concerns and questions. This reflects ECRI Institute's approach to producing evidence-based patient information and decision tools. The next step is to identify the body of clinical research that addresses patients' questions and analyze all available data in a systematic, objective way to find the answers. Sometimes that evidence does not exist, and ECRI Institute identifies gaps in clinical research that need to be filled to answer the questions. This is useful for future clinical research directions.

Much of the available patient information today discusses diseases and available treatments, but lacks explanations about risks, benefits, and the effectiveness of various treatment options. Users of ECRI Institute guides are highly motivated people who want credible information like this to discuss with their clinicians and figure out what to do.

ECRI Institute believes it can play a pivotal role in creating a National Patient Library™ because of its precedent-setting approach to producing and disseminating such information. Most people assume that the types of resources that appear in this guide are readily available for most diseases and conditions. They are not. Comprehensive, evidence-based, balanced and objective patient-centered information is the exception rather than the rule. Patients and their families who have searched for information when faced with a healthcare crisis are aware of huge gaps in credible information that is free of conflicts of interest.

Undertaking the type of research needed to produce such guides is costly. Funding sources must be willing to accept the fundamental philosophy of evidence-based information—which sometimes flies in the face of beliefs and individual perceptions. To request more information about how to contribute financially to the creation of a National Patient Library™, click here.

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Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person engages in binge eating (eating a lot of food in a short time) followed by some type of behavior to prevent weight gain from the food that was eaten. This behavior can take two forms: self-induced vomiting, misuse of enemas, laxatives, diet pills (called purging) and excessive exercise, fasting, or diabetic omission of insulin (called non-purging). Some people with bulimia nervosa may also starve themselves for periods of time before binge eating again. Bulimia nervosa has important mental, emotional, and physical aspects that require consideration during treatment.

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