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About the PEN Collection: Health Information for Patients and Families

Welcome to our collection of consumer health materials!

If you are a patient, family member, caregiver or friend:

Being informed means being a partner in your health or the health of a loved one. It means working with the health care team to make important health decisions.

By being an active partner, you will better understand and follow the advice you are being given. You or your loved one will be safer and happier with the care that is being given.

To make good decisions you need information based on the latest and best research. But with so much information in the news and on the Internet, how can you know what to trust? How can you find information that is easy to read and understand?

This collection was created to help you and your health care team find and access reliable, up-to-date consumer health information using one easy-to-search resource.

The information you find in the PEN Collection should not be considered as medical advice. It is not to be used in place of a visit with a doctor, nurse or other health care professional. If you have questions about a specific medical situation, please consult with the health care team.

For Health Professionals:

In keeping with the JGH vision, the JGH Patient Education Network (PEN) has made a commitment to supporting patient-centred care, which sees the patient acting as a partner in their care whose unique needs are heard and respected.

With a proliferation of online health information, it is often difficult for patients and families to navigate to the most reliable and up-to-date information.

You may not have the time, or know where to look in order to ensure that your patients have access to the information they need. You also may not always be aware that patients and families want more information than they are being given.

The PEN database will complement the InfoRx service provided by the PFRC by offering a single access point to hand-picked reliable and up-to-date health information, including material created by JGH staff. It will also be a resource you can use to quickly find information to share with your patients and to be aware of what other departments are developing in-house. The database has the potential to help minimize duplication of effort and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration.

To submit or recommend material for the PEN Collection, please contact Francesca Frati at local 2438. For information about submissions please go to the Submission page and see the submission checklist in each form.

What is included in the collection


When available, we have linked you to Google Books so that you may view the book online.

The PEN Collection pulls together books from the following sources:

Hope & Cope:

Hope & Cope helps people cope with cancer. Guided by professional staff, cancer-experienced volunteers provide psychosocial support and practical resources that help patients regain a sense of control and well-being, reduce isolation and restore hope. Their collection of over 2000 records is included in the PEN collection. For information about borrowing books and to see which are currently available, please go to E-730.1 and ask one of the volunteers for help or call 514 340-8255.

The Patient and Family Resource Centre (PFRC):

The PFRC can be found in the JGH Library (Pavilion A, room 200). Here you can meet with a medical librarian who can help you and your family find the health information you need. We also have a collection of books that you can borrow on a variety of health topics such as general health, nutrition and lifestyle, alternative therapies, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, premature infants, caregiving and much more. PFRC Borrowing Policy.

To see which books are currently available please go in person to the PFRC 9:00am-4:30pm Mon-Fri and ask at the Circulation Desk (room A-200).

JGH Publications

This includes materials created by JGH health professionals and medical librarians to meet the specific needs of JGH patients and families. These can be:

Websites or web pages
Video or audio

Websites & Databases

This includes links to reliable and up-to-date consumer health websites and other online resources chosen by a JGH librarian and/or JGH health professionals.

Multimedia & News

This includes links to videos and news stories on the topic of health. Some may have been created by JGH health professionals and staff.

Journals & Magazines

This includes articles from medical journals and consumer health magazines. Links to the printable full-text version are given when possible. When the full-text version of the article is not available, a JGH librarian can print you a copy for a fee.

How we decide what to include

All materials* must meet the following criteria:

* Books in the Hope & Cope Collection are selected by Hope & Cope volunteers. For information about how they make their selection please call 514-340-8255.

Meets the needs of our users.

The information must be relevant to the care provided to patients and families by the hospital and support the needs of JGH clinics and departments.

Reliable and up-to-date

The information must have been reviewed and/or updated within the past 3 years and must cite its sources. It should be clear who wrote the information and possible to verify that they are a credible source (does the author provide their credentials? Does the publisher have a good reputation?).

Supports partnership

The information should support, not replace, the relationship you have with your health professional.

Meets our standards for quality

The information should be well written and presented, without spelling mistakes and other errors.

Available in as many languages as possible

The information should be available in either French or English, as well as other languages when possible.


The information should be as easy-to-read as possible. Materials created by JGH health professionals and medical librarians must be edited for reading ease and be at a grade 6-8 level.

Websites are chosen using HonCode Principles.

JGH publications must meet the criteria determined by the JGH PEN Committee (see submission forms).

Need help?

For help using the PEN Collection, finding the answers to a specific question, or for more detailed information, please contact Francesca Frati, Patient Information Specialist & PEN Chair, at (514) 340-8222 local 2438.


Created April 26, 2012, Updated November 12 2014