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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
Journal of Medical Internet Research >
Volume 10 (2008)  >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16652


Title: What Do Evaluation Instruments Tell Us About the Quality of Complementary Medicine Information on the Internet?
Authors: Breckons, Matthew
Jones, Ray
Morris, Jenny
Richardson, Janet
Keywords: Original Paper
Consumer Health Informatics
Internet
quality of information
complementary medicine
Issue Date: 22-Jan-2008
Publisher: Gunther Eysenbach; Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada
Citation: Matthew Breckons, Ray Jones, Jenny Morris, Janet Richardson. What Do Evaluation Instruments Tell Us About the Quality of Complementary Medicine Information on the Internet?. J Med Internet Res 2008;10(1):e3 <URL: http://www.jmir.org/2008/1/e3/>
Abstract: [This item is a preserved copy and is not necessarily the most recent version. To view the current item, visit http://www.jmir.org/2008/1/e3/ ] Background: Developers of health information websites aimed at consumers need methods to assess whether their website is of “high quality.” Due to the nature of complementary medicine, website information is diverse and may be of poor quality. Various methods have been used to assess the quality of websites, the two main approaches being (1) to compare the content against some gold standard, and (2) to rate various aspects of the site using an assessment tool. Objective: We aimed to review available evaluation instruments to assess their performance when used by a researcher to evaluate websites containing information on complementary medicine and breast cancer. In particular, we wanted to see if instruments used the same criteria, agreed on the ranking of websites, were easy to use by a researcher, and if use of a single tool was sufficient to assess website quality. Methods: Bibliographic databases, search engines, and citation searches were used to identify evaluation instruments. Instruments were included that enabled users with no subject knowledge to make an objective assessment of a website containing health information. The elements of each instrument were compared to nine main criteria defined by a previous study. Google was used to search for complementary medicine and breast cancer sites. The first six results and a purposive six from different origins (charities, sponsored, commercial) were chosen. Each website was assessed using each tool, and the percentage of criteria successfully met was recorded. The ranking of the websites by each tool was compared. The use of the instruments by others was estimated by citation analysis and Google searching. Results: A total of 39 instruments were identified, 12 of which met the inclusion criteria; the instruments contained between 4 and 43 questions. When applied to 12 websites, there was agreement of the rank order of the sites with 10 of the instruments. Instruments varied in the range of criteria they assessed and in their ease of use. Conclusions: Comparing the content of websites against a gold standard is time consuming and only feasible for very specific advice. Evaluation instruments offer gateway providers a method to assess websites. The checklist approach has face validity when results are compared to the actual content of “good” and “bad” websites. Although instruments differed in the range of items assessed, there was fair agreement between most available instruments. Some were easier to use than others, but these were not necessarily the instruments most widely used to date. Combining some of the better features of instruments to provide fewer, easy-to-use methods would be beneficial to gateway providers.
Description: Reviewer: Bernstam, Elmer
URI: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.2196/jmir.961
http://hdl.handle.net/1807/16652
ISSN: 1438-8871
Rights: © Matthew Breckons, Ray Jones, Jenny Morris, Janet Richardson. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 22.01.2008. Except where otherwise noted, articles published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, including full bibliographic details and the URL (see "please cite as" above), and this statement is included.
Appears in Collections:Volume 10 (2008)

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