How do I access UpToDate patient education topics?

About UpToDate patient education

UpToDate offers hundreds of patient education topics about the most common medical conditions and procedures. These topics encapsulate the same information included in the materials provided for clinicians. As such, they give readers the information they need to actively participate in decisions related to their care.

Goals and objectives

For healthcare providers, our goal is to provide patient education materials that can be easily accessed and used with patients at the point of care, enabling shared medical decision making.

For patients, our aim is to provide information that can answer medical questions and help the patient make informed medical decisions in partnership with their family and healthcare team.

UpToDate patient education topics

Patients have varying information needs. Some want just a brief overview, while others want more in-depth information. UpToDate meets the varying information needs of patients by offering both The Basics and Beyond the Basics:

  • The Basics — These topics are 1-3 pages in length and are written in simple language. They answer the four or five most important questions that a person might have about a medical problem. The Basics topics are best for readers who want a general overview.
  • Beyond the Basics — These topics are 5-10 pages long and are more detailed than the topics in The Basics. Beyond the Basics topics are best for readers who want a lot of detailed information and who are comfortable with some technical medical terms.

Our patient education topics also offer:

  • Integrated full-color pictures, graphics, and charts to help the reader understand difficult medical concepts
  • Extensive referencing, with links to topic abstracts
  • Links to other related topics and related search terms in UpToDate

Update schedule and editorial review

Like our clinician-level materials, patient education topics are updated continuously, so they reflect the most recent medical literature. All patient education topics are written by professional medical writers with advanced degrees, and then edited by our in-house physician editors. They are also reviewed by an external physician author and section editor. Thus, our patient education topics are current, accurate, and evidence-based.

Accessing UpToDate patient education

With UpToDate online, clinicians can access patient education topics as follows:

  • Through the search facility add the words 'patient info' to your search query (for example, search on "patient info asthma").
  • When viewing search results in UpToDate on the web, in the left hand navigation click on Patient to prioritize patient education topics to the top of your search results list.
  • After logging in, click Patient Info on the toolbar, then click on the medical category of interest. NOTE: For the desktop application, the Patient Info option must be configured to show on the toolbar.
  • Click Patient in the topic tools area at upper-right in a topic to go directly to the Information for Patients section, where you will find links to any related patient education topics. Note: The Patient tool is available only in professional-level topics for which there is related patient information.

With the UpToDate mobile apps, the Patient tab is available at the top of the search results list.

Beyond the Basics patient articles are available free to the public. For more information, or to search on a topic, visit our Benefits for Patients page. Patients can search for information using the search facility. Patients can also click on "view patient-level table of contents" directly below the Search box to view all of our patient education topics by medical category.

All topics can be printed or e-mailed.

View a video that describes the patient education materials available.