Monika Safford, MD, a general internist, and Jeff Curtis, MD, a rheumatologist, conceived of the PALS at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2015. We had been collaborating on research projects to better understand why so many people hesitate to take the medicines their doctors recommend. In the course of that work, we learned that many people had questions about their health that were very different than what doctors wanted people to know.
As doctors, we tend to emphasize how a drug works to combat the bad things a disease can do to you. Our patients had some interest in this, but they were much more interested in side effects, actual benefits they could expect, interactions with other medicines they might already be taking, as well as how much the drugs cost. This difference in focus often meant that we as doctors were talking past our patients, contributing to their lack of enthusiasm for taking medicines that they felt they didn’t know enough about.
Our patients and research participants told us they actively sought out information outside the doctor’s office to answer their questions, but they were frustrated about available resources. There is a lot of information about health available on the internet, but getting specific questions answered is a challenge. A lot of information is of questionable reliability, and it’s very hard to tell what’s legitimate. On top of that, medical information can be complicated and difficult to understand.
Enter the PALS.
We designed the PALS to meet the needs of patients and their loved ones who want the plain facts about drugs, health, and disease.
Many studies show that people prefer to get their health-related information from their doctor. All the content that you will find on the PALS is created by doctors or medical students under the guidance of a doctor, and all content is independently reviewed for accuracy. You can see who created the content at the bottom of each page, and we welcome your feedback on how well the information answered your questions.
PALS stands for Patient Activated Learning System. It is a publicly available resource designed to provide engaging, easily understood, and well-researched facts for people who want to know more about health, medicines, and diseases.