As a medical librarian, I spend my days stumbling into strange bits of health knowledge. Many of these lean more towards bizarre than helpful, but I always want to share. So, follow my adventures in searching.
My favorite search today was one involving the effectiveness of edutainment (educational entertainment, like health-related telenovelas in this case) for prevention of HIV/AIDS in adolescent populations, specifically in certain developing countries. Lots of fun aspects, including the need to search in educational databases to include background articles justifying the instructional methodology. Which brings me to my slight librarian rant of the day (feel free to roll your eyes)!
Now, I love ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center, probably the most common database used to search literature concerning education) and I often encourage my medical educators to broaden their searches to this resource. BUT a certain subject term has been grating on my nerves. ‘Foreign Countries’ is an actual set term within the ERIC hierarchy of vocabulary.
A little US-centric? Just a tad… My slight excuse for this…. ERIC is sponsored by the Institute for Education Services within the US Department of Education. According to the scope note, the term in question was added in 1966 and is helpfully defined as “Countries other than the U.S.”. Time to update, I’d say! Educational researchers in other countries use ERIC, and many of the indexed articles are about programs or research in countries other than the US (with an overly basic search using the descriptor I’m so annoyed with, today there are 172,086).
Even odder, there aren’t terms for individual countries, but slightly narrower choices of ‘Developed Nations’ and ‘Developing Nations’. For actual country names, you have to keyword search, and let me tell you, not the best choice. (Another search today involved the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan - try searching our favorite keyword jungle just for ‘Jordan’ combined with other keywords (social security, social welfare, health insurance coverage) and see how quickly you become annoyed with people named Jordan. If you try to be smart and go for the phrase “Kingdom of Jordan”? You suddenly get more targeted results but lose all of the potentially perfect ones where the authors used the shortened country name. Don’t even get me started on alternate spellings.)
In contrast, another governmental sponsored database, our beloved MEDLINE (searchable publicly through the PubMed interface) comes from the National Institutes of Health but, cognizant of the international use, provides a variety of terms to allow search by geographic region (such as ‘Africa South of the Sahara’) or country (‘Ethiopia’).
So, ERIC, please update the geographic/country aspect of your thesaurus! I’m pretty sure my co-workers are tired of me bringing this up every time I search you.
Database Image by Michael Mandiberg, shared through CC
No, I didn’t have a patron request this search, though I’m sure it’ll happen at some point! (Two weeks ago I had a search on efficacy of specific rehabilitation methods for sex offenders, so I’m never surprised anymore.)
Instead, echoinglaughter was reading Shit My Dad Says: “There won’t be humans in 500 years. Enough people choke themselves when they jerk off we gave it a name. We ain’t a species made to last.” and she was trying to remember the name for auto-erotic asphyxiation. Being librarians, we both then felt the need to do a lovely MEDLINE search and find out more (anyone who wants to play, MeSH terms Asphyxia AND Paraphilias work out well). To be clear, we’re not intending mockery… if you have a fetish, please practice it safely and don’t end up like these people.
So, I have some Case Reports to share!
Aqua-eroticum: an unusual autoerotic fatality in a lake involving a home-made diving apparatus (He tied himself under a boat, and his home-made breathing machine didn’t work so well)
Elderly victim: an unusual autoerotic fatality involving an 87-year-old male (apparently only unusual because of his age - this guy has the tenuous honor of being the oldest reported case)
Complex autoerotic death with full body wrapping in a plastic body bag (“the largest and most complex plastic bag ever involved in a published case of autoerotic death”)
Fatal and near-fatal autoerotic asphyxial episodes in women. Characteristic features based on a review of nine cases (“asphyxial episodes during autoerotic activity are rarely reported in women”… so here’s a little review)
Sexual asphyxia in siblings. (“This is the first reported case of sexual asphyxia involving siblings.” Note: they aren’t participating together, don’t worry! They just both had the same predilection and died, 18 years apart.)
Autoerotic fatalities with power hydraulics (“We report two cases in which men used the hydraulic shovels on tractors to suspend themselves for masochistic sexual stimulation. One man developed a romantic attachment to a tractor, even giving it a name and writing poetry in its honor.” Seriously. His tractor, perhaps named Darlene, was so cherished…)
Autoerotic asphyxial death following television broadcast (A serious case of “the TV made me do it”)
Last week, I was prepping a search on physician burnout, and wanted to find a few examples of postings from a health care professional perspective. Aaaand, late in my search I found myself absolutely puzzled by this lovely link, purportedly on a new prophylactic procedure that numbs the brains of poor overworked residents so they can make it through the nights full of suffering patients.
Banish that pesky empathy! “Excessive compassion is a problem all over the place”, don’t you know? Of course, I then noticed the date of the post. April 1. Alright, so it’s a joke… and I smiled and shook my head. But I also worried for the potential viewers who didn’t stay on the page long enough to pick up on the lampoon. Or those who were offended regardless of the date. Two of my colleagues and I teach a little ‘internet hygiene’ module intended to help future doctors realize the dangers of certain web missteps to their professionalism, and this made it on to the list for next year!