I found some potentially great news regarding consumer health search at beSpacific: New Search Engines Focus on Biomedical Literature and Clinical Trials Information.
"Healia announced today the launch of two new search engine tools - Healia PubMed/Medline Search and Clinical Trials Search - to help consumers find relevant biomedical literature and clinical trials information...Healia PubMed/Medline Search is specifically designed to help consumers retrieve abstracts (summaries) of scientific articles published in biomedical journals in a user-friendly way. It searches the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) PubMed/Medline dataset, which includes more than 17 million abstracts and citations from approximately 5,000 biomedical journals published in the United States and worldwide since the 1950s."
Omitted from the quote is that the Clinical Trials portal data comes from ClinicalTrials.gov, the National Library of Medicine's database of active clinical trials.
Healia is doing a great service, assuming these work as advertised. I have every reason to believe they do, but I haven't had time to try them out. Hopefully this trend will grow over time - providing consumer audience-tailored search to public databases whose official front ends are targeted at professionals, or not designed to be as user-friendly as possible, or both.
Kudos to Dr. Eng and the crew at Healia!