The first edition of the Consumer Health Information Source Book came out in 1981. The book has since been used by many librarians as a reliable source for both referral information and collection development. The source book is in its seventh edition at the moment and even after reaching this stage, it shows capabilities of keeping pace with existing changes that occur in the systems of information delivery and healthcare. The book has a format that remains the same; but over several editions, its focus has become more selective and narrower as well. The current volume is much smaller and it remains a guide to a slew of popular health information resources in America, available to the general public both in the form of electronic and print.
The latest edition, however, the book has been edited to include selected (rather than compiled) sources that have values that are more positive. In the book, there are more than 2000 evaluative descriptions of 385 books, 40 medical textbooks, journals, monographs, 31 online and fax-based information services and CD-ROMS, 325 health resource and referral organizations, 215 toll-free information hotlines, 850 Spanish-language pamphlets, 1,500 English pamphlets, and 165 popular health magazines as well as newsletter.
There is an introductory chapter that explores latter trends that are observed in medical consumerism and the subsequent needs for accurate information all common readers can comprehend. The books second chapter contains 151 extraordinary sources with ratings ranging from 1 to 3 stars. Said sources are extensively discussed throughout the following chapters. These chapters vary in the amount of information they offer. For example, explaining information centers and clearinghouses are given complete with telephone number, address, name, and URL if available plus a short annotation about publications and services offered. Asterisks indicate the best newsletters and the best magazines.