Background: Internet represents a relevant source of information, but reliability of data that can be obtained by the web is still an unsolved issue. Non-reliable online information may have a relevance, especially in taking decisions related to health problems. Uncertainties on the quality of online health data may have a negative impact on health-related choices of citizens. Objective: This work consisted in a cross-sectional literature review of published papers on online health information. The two main research objectives consisted in the analysis of trends in the use of health web sites and in the quality assessment and reliability levels of web medical sites. Methods: Literature research was made using four digital reference databases, namely PubMed, British Medical Journal, Biomed, and CINAHL. Entries used were “trustworthy of medical information online,” “survey to evaluate medical information online,” “medical information online,” and “habits of web-based health information users”. Analysis included only papers published in English. The Newcastle Ottawa Scale was used to conduct quality checks of selected works. Results: Literature analysis using the above entries resulted in 212 studies. Twenty-four articles in line with study objectives, and user characteristics were selected. People more prone to use the internet for obtaining health information were females, younger people, scholars, and employees. Reliability of different online health sites is an issue taken into account by the majority of people using the internet for obtaining health information and physician assistance could help people to surf more safe health web sites. Conclusions: Limited health information and/or web literacy can cause misunderstandings in evaluating medical data found in the web. An appropriate education plan and evaluation tools could enhance user skills and bring to a more cautious analysis of health information found in the web.

Factors affecting the quality and reliability of online health information

Gopi Battineni
Primo
;
Nalini Chintalapudi;Getu Gamo Sagaro;Giulio Nittari;
2020-01-01

Abstract

Background: Internet represents a relevant source of information, but reliability of data that can be obtained by the web is still an unsolved issue. Non-reliable online information may have a relevance, especially in taking decisions related to health problems. Uncertainties on the quality of online health data may have a negative impact on health-related choices of citizens. Objective: This work consisted in a cross-sectional literature review of published papers on online health information. The two main research objectives consisted in the analysis of trends in the use of health web sites and in the quality assessment and reliability levels of web medical sites. Methods: Literature research was made using four digital reference databases, namely PubMed, British Medical Journal, Biomed, and CINAHL. Entries used were “trustworthy of medical information online,” “survey to evaluate medical information online,” “medical information online,” and “habits of web-based health information users”. Analysis included only papers published in English. The Newcastle Ottawa Scale was used to conduct quality checks of selected works. Results: Literature analysis using the above entries resulted in 212 studies. Twenty-four articles in line with study objectives, and user characteristics were selected. People more prone to use the internet for obtaining health information were females, younger people, scholars, and employees. Reliability of different online health sites is an issue taken into account by the majority of people using the internet for obtaining health information and physician assistance could help people to surf more safe health web sites. Conclusions: Limited health information and/or web literacy can cause misunderstandings in evaluating medical data found in the web. An appropriate education plan and evaluation tools could enhance user skills and bring to a more cautious analysis of health information found in the web.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11581/481025
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