TRC Pharmacology Database: user manual

Table of contents:


The TRC Pharmacology database provides explainations for mechanisms of drug action in the context of physiology and pathophysiology.
Each topic in the database contains an illustration and text describing the illustration. All illustrations are presented in the unique TRC icon language. Explanation of the icons can be found in the LIBRARY OF SYMBOLS. Topics may also include an animation to simplify the illustration, text containing links to other resources, and the opportunity to assess yourself with multiple-choice questions and practice cases.

Before using the TRC database, you have to read and agree with the Terms of use.

What's new?

This will only make sense if you visited the TRC before 2011:
In view of the use of the TRC on iPads and similar devices, we got rid of the "double-clicking" feature. A single click on a title in the tree will display an item. The "Show" button became obsolete and has been removed.


The TRC's screen is divided into 3 sections:
  1. The left panel for general browsing and navigation through the database.
  2. The right panel where the topics are viewed.
  3. A narrow panel at the bottom of the screen with buttons for closing the tree menu, navigating forwards and backwards, displaying the current selected topic, the evaluation form (opens in new window) and the help page (current page that you're reading). These buttons will be discussed under the Enhanced functionality section.

Left panel

The left panel is the main area where the user can navigate through different sections and topics of the TRC database. This panel is divided in several tabs. By default, the tree menu's tab will be highlighted to indicate that the user is viewing this menu. One can switch to another tab by clicking on its respective button: 6STEP portfolio, A-Z index (alphabetical index of all articles in the TRC), alphabetical drug list, and search field. Each tab is explained in more detail below.

Tree menu Tree menu
The TRC tree menu is made up of a list of of chapters on different fields of medicine. These chapters contain submenus with more specific information. When a chapter contains a submenu, its title and icon will be preceded by a plus sign (+). You can open the submenu by either clicking the plus sign or the title , revealing a branch of the tree menu. This will turn the plus sign into a minus sign (-) to indicate the submenu has been opened.

In general, each branch is built in the following order (although depending on the system or organ, some branches will differ):

Physiology in detail (on cellular level)
Pathophysiology in detail (on cellular level)
Mechanism of drug action

Following is a list of the icons used in the tree menu and their basic meaning:

TRC logo
Chapter of medicine
Physiology/regulation of a system
Pathophysiology of a disease
Physiology at the cellular level
Subchapter basic pharmacology
Information on dynamics or kinetics
Mechanism of drug action

Displaying a topic can be done by clicking its title in the tree menu

6STEP 6STEP portfolio
This tab leads to a list of all the cases to be used for developing a 6STEP Therapeutic Plan. A 6STEP is an exercise for testing the user's ability to apply new therapeutic knowledge to a patient's problem(s).
The 6STEPs listed under the 6STEP tab link to the 6STEP case on a separate page ( It is possible that you will have to register into this website before you are able to see the 6STEP case.
The 6STEP tab also serves as the user's 6STEP portfolio. When the user completes a 6STEP, its title will be struck through in the portfolio to indicate this.

Refresh After completing a 6STEP, you may need to click the refresh button located in the 6STEP portfolio tab to reload it and strike through the 6STEP that you have completed. This is because the 6STEPs will always load in an external window and not in the TRC database itself.

During a student's career, the portfolio will steadily indicate more and more 6STEPs that have been completed.

A-Z Alphabetical index of all topics
This tab contains a list of all topics that are currently in the TRC database. Most often, the user will use this tab to quickly find information on a particular topic. However, because this search opens the topic and also selects/highlights the topic in the tree menu, it is possible to find other topics that are related to it.

Drug list List of all drugs
This tab contains a list of all drugs on the TRC database. Opening a drug's topic will, similar to the alphabetical index, select/highlight this topic in the tree menu to help find related topics.

Search Search box tab
A search box can be found under this tab. It has been included to offer users the ability to perform full-text searches on all topics in the TRC database.

The search string must contain at least 3 characters. This rule has been implemented to prevent overloading of the server when a user performs a search on a small word ("a", "as", "to", "in" etc.)

Right panel

The right panel is the main area where the topics are displayed. This panel is divided in several tabs. By default, the Graphic tab will be highlighted so the user can see the topics's illustration and text. One can switch to another tab by clicking on its respective button: questions, animations and 6STEP. The tabs have been color-coded to represent being in the foreground (light-blue), background (dark blue) or not containing any data (grey) (e.g. Animation). This spares the user from having to check each tab for content.

Each tab is explained in more detail below.

Graphic Graphic
In this area, you can review the topic's illustration and read the text information on the topic that you've chosen to display. The topic's text may contain different types of links:
Internal links will open another topic within the TRC database when clicked.
External links will open a web page from another domain. Most of these links refer to an topic in the Dutch Farmacotherapeutisch Kompas (but see "Personalization" of the TRC).

Questions Questions
The TRC offers the user the opportunity to test one's knowledge on a topic by means of multiple choice questions. Once all questions have been filled in, the user can click the button Check answer to check his/her answers. If an explanation is available, a button next to the question will appear Explanation. Clicking it will display a dialog box with explanation for that question and answer.

Animation Animation
This tab offers the user the ability to view a Flash animation of the illustration graphic. This function is not always available, but often provided when a mechanims is difficult or takes place in several steps.

This tab will become available when a topic is related to one or more of the 6STEP cases. To practice making a therapeutic plan, click the link in the 6STEP tab.

Enhanced functionality

The users experience is enhanced by:

  1. The "Personalization" of the TRC to keep track of what the user has and hasn't already learned and provide a choice between references to the (Dutch) Farmacotherapeutisch Kompas and the British National Formulary.
  2. Navigation tabs to aid the users navigation through the topics.
  3. Print functionality for the user to either download or print TRC illustrations and texts.
  4. Lastly, there are a few Assistance buttons located in the TRC database. These include the email button, the help button and the evaluation form. The first two assist the user, the last assists the TRC team.

"Personalization" of the TRC

The TRC tree menu displays the titles of unread topics in blue. Once the user has read the topic, the title in the tree menu will appear grey.

A topic's status is considered as "read" when its contents are displayed and the user has completed all the questions that may be available in that topic.

When new content is added to the TRC database or if a current topic is substantially updated, a flag (flag) will be placed next to the item's title in the tree menu.
To facilitate finding these items in the branches of the tree menu, a double flag (double flag) will be placed next to the item's parent title. This double flag indicates that the new item(s) is/are located in the submenu of the title which has a double flag. In order to navigate to the new item(s), the user must open the submenu (and possibly more submenus) to find the item(s) which have one flag and read them.


The TRC provides many links to the Dutch Farmacotherapeutisch Kompas. User with access to the British National Formulary (BNF) or MicroMedex can use links to the BNF or Micromedex instead. For users from BNF-enabled countries the Kompas links are automatically replaced by BNF links. This setting can be overruled with the Settings form. Users with a subscription to the BNF through MedicinesComplete can use this form to redirect BNF links through MedicinesComplete. Future sessions will also use this setting.
Note that not all Kompas links have been mapped to BNF or Micromedex links. The unmapped links are not shown.

Some of the 6STEPs are available in Dutch as well as English. Of these 6STEPs only the version in the preferred language of the user will be shown. The preferred language is derived from the user's account data, but can be overruled with the Settings form.

Navigation buttons

The user can navigate backwards and forwards through topics that have been displayed during the current session.
To do this, click the back and forward to load the either the previous or next topic, respectively.
These buttons are disabled and shown as (back (disabled) and forward (disabled)) whenever navigating backwards or forwards are not available.
The user can also collapse the tree menu in order to quickly move to another topic by using the collapse tree button Collapse tree

Print functionality

The user can now print the illustrations and/or texts for his/her own use.
This feature is available by clicking the Send to print list button (Show print list) located at the upper right corner of the right panel.

By clicking the Send to print list button, a dialog box is displayed that asks the user to specify what to print of the current topic:

A print list containing several topics can be generated and saved for later printing. Simply click the Send to print list button for each desired topic. With this method, the user can select multiple topics, each in a different "format", to store in his/her print list.

The content of the print list is cleared everytime the user closes the TRC database. A new blank print list will be available at the next session in the TRC.

Assistance buttons

The Email button (Email)is located at the topic right corner of the right panel. Use this tab to email a comment, question or correction to the TRC team. The topic of your question is already indentified via link in the email. Your email can be in English or Dutch.
The Help button (Help) is located on right part of the narrow panel at the bottom of the screen. This is the current help page that you are reading.
The evaluation form (evaluation) opens the evaluation form in new window. It is particularly helpful if you fill out the form each time you complete a section of the TRC. We use the evaluations to continue to make improvements to the database.

Social bookmarking and RSS

You can share specific TRC topics with others, or bookmark them for yourself, using the Bookmark or Share this pagebutton and your favorite social bookmarking or networking site, like BlackBoard Scholar,, or Google Bookmarks. Please note that different sites have different rules about the type of bookmarks they accept. You might need to add some extra information.
You can also keep yourself informed of recent additions and changes of the TRC by adding the RSS feed RSS feed to your favorite RSS feed reader.


System requirements
The TRC database requires an online computer or similar device with Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher, or Firefox 1.0 or higher, Safari, or Google Chrome. The recommended screen resolution is 1024768 pixels or higher.
Below are some problems the user might encounter in the TRC:

The Search box does not allow me to perform a search (search button is disabled)
First, see if your search string contains 3 characters or more. If not, type in additional text to search for.
If the problem persists, it is most likely because your internet browser doesn't allow Ajax. To solve the problem, carry out the following:

The 6STEP list does not refresh
Follow the steps described in The Search box does not allow me....