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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
Journal of Medical Internet Research >
Volume 5 (2003) >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/4678


Title: Improving Web Searches: Case Study of Quit-Smoking Web Sites for Teenagers
Authors: Koo, Malcolm
Skinner, Harvey
Keywords: Original Paper
Internet
smoking cessation
teens
teenagers
search engines
Web page analysis
Issue Date: 14-Nov-2003
Publisher: Gunther Eysenbach; Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada
Citation: Malcolm Koo, Harvey Skinner. Improving Web Searches: Case Study of Quit-Smoking Web Sites for Teenagers. J Med Internet Res 2003;5(4):e28 <URL: http://www.jmir.org/2003/4/e28/>
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/2003/4/e28/ ] Background: The Web has become an important and influential source of health information. With the vast number of Web sites on the Internet, users often resort to popular search sites when searching for information. However, little is known about the characteristics of Web sites returned by simple Web searches for information about smoking cessation for teenagers. Objective: To determine the characteristics of Web sites retrieved by search engines about smoking cessation for teenagers and how information quality correlates with the search ranking. Methods: The top 30 sites returned by 4 popular search sites in response to the search terms "teen quit smoking" were examined. The information relevance and quality characteristics of these sites were evaluated by 2 raters. Objective site characteristics were obtained using a page-analysis Web site. Results: Only 14 of the 30 Web sites are of direct relevance to smoking cessation for teenagers. The readability of about two-thirds of the 14 sites is below an eighth-grade school level and they ranked significantly higher (Kendall rank correlation, tau = -0.39, P= .05) in search-site results than sites with readability above or equal to that grade level. Sites that ranked higher were significantly associated with the presence of e-mail address for contact (tau = -0.46, P= .01), annotated hyperlinks to external sites (tau = -0.39, P= .04), and the presence of meta description tag (tau = -0.48, P= .002). The median link density (number of external sites that have a link to that site) of the Web pages was 6 and the maximum was 735. A higher link density was significantly associated with a higher rank (tau = -0.58, P= .02). Conclusions: Using simple search terms on popular search sites to look for information on smoking cessation for teenagers resulted in less than half of the sites being of direct relevance. To improve search efficiency, users could supplement results obtained from simple Web searches with human-maintained Web directories and learn to refine their searches with more advanced search syntax.
Description: Reviewer: Slater, Michael
Reviewer: Haefeli, Walter Emil
Reviewer: Ilic, Dragan
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/4678
ISSN: 1438-8871
Other Identifiers: doi:10.2196/jmir.5.4.e28
Rights: Copyright (cc) Retained by author(s) under a Creative Commons License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Appears in Collections:Volume 5 (2003)

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