Can examination of WWW usage statistics and other indirect quality indicators distinguish the relative quality of medical web sites?


BACKGROUND:The Internet offers a great amount of health related websites, but concern has been raised about their reliability. Several subjective evaluation criteria and websites rating systems have been proposed as a help for the Internet users to distinguish among web resources with different quality, but their efficacy has not been proven. OBJECTIVES:To evaluate the agreement of a subset of Internet rating systems editorial boards regarding their evaluations of a sample of pediatric websites. To evaluate certain websites characteristics as possible quality indicators for pediatric websites. METHODS:Comparative survey of the Results of systematic evaluations of the contents and formal aspects of a sample of pediatric websites, with the number of daily visits to those websites, the time since their last update, the impact factor of their authors or editors, and the number of websites linked to them. RESULTS:363 websites were compiled from eight rating systems. Only 25 were indexed and evaluated by at least two rating systems. This subset included more updated and more linked websites. There was no correlation among the Results of the evaluation of these 25 websites by the rating systems. The number of inbound links to the websites significantly correlated with their updating frequency (p<.001), with the number of daily visits (p=.005), and with the Results of their evaluation by the largest rating system, HealthAtoZ (p<.001). The websites updating frequency also significantly correlated with the RESULTS of the websites evaluation by HealthAtoZ, both about their contents (p=.001) and their total values (p<.05). The number of daily visits significantly correlated (p<.05) with the Results of the evaluations by Medical Matrix. CONCLUSIONS:Some websites characteristics as the number of daily visits, their updating frequency and, overall, the number of websites linked to them, correlate with their evaluation by some of the largest rating systems on the Internet, what means that certain indexes obtained from the usage analysis of pediatric websites could be used as quality indicators. On the other hand, the citation analysis on the Web by the quantification of inbound links to medical websites could be an objective and feasible tool in rating great amounts of websites.


J Med Internet Res


Hernández-Borges AA,Macías-Cervi P,Gaspar-Guardado MA,Torres-Alvarez de Arcaya ML,Ruiz-Rabaza A,Jiménez-Sosa A





Has Abstract


1999-07-01 00:00:00












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