Estimating the Proportion of Health-Related Websites Disclosing Information That Can Be Used to Assess Their Quality

Final Report - May 30, 2006


Findings (continued)


Elements of Compliance By Criteria

Table 5 displays the estimates of website compliance, by criterion and by disclosure elements associated with each criterion. We present estimates separately for all health websites, the sites most frequently visited, and for the remainder websites. We discuss findings by criterion in the following sections.

Identity

Full compliance with the Identity criterion requires disclosure of three elements: (1) the name of the person or organization responsible for the website (Name), (2) the street address (Address), and (3) identified sources of funding for the website (Funding). As shown in Table 5, most websites (92 percent) disclose Name, and over half (55 percent) disclose Address. However, only one-fifth (20 percent) disclose Funding. In sum, only 9 percent of all websites (and 15 percent of the sites most frequently visited) comply with all three of the Identity criterion elements, although most comply with one or two. While baseline estimates of compliance with the criterion and its subcomponent elements differed somewhat between the strata, we did not find statistically significant differences at the 0.05 level of significance.

Table 5. Estimates of Compliance by Criterion and Disclosure Element

 

 

All Sites (n = 102)

 

Frequently Visited Sites (n=52)

 

Remainder (n=50)

Criterion/Disclosure Element

Percent

Lower bound 95% CI

Upper bound 95% CI

 

Percent

Lower bound 95% CI

Upper bound 95% CI

 

Percent

Lower bound 95% CI

Upper bound 95% CI

Identity

8.5

3.6

18.9

 

15.4

8.5

26.2

 

8.0

3.0

19.7

Name

91.6

81.2

96.5

 

86.5

76.0

92.9

 

92.0

80.3

97.0

Street address

54.8

41.7

67.3

 

65.4

53.2

75.8

 

54.0

40.0

67.4

Funding sources

20.2

11.7

32.7

 

23.1

14.5

34.7

 

20.0

11.0

33.6

Purpose

35.2

24.0

48.4

 

51.9*

40.0

63.7

 

34.0

22.2

48.3

Purpose or mission

64.3

50.9

75.7

 

67.3

55.2

77.5

 

64.0

49.7

76.2

Uses and limitations

71.0

57.8

81.5

 

84.6

73.8

91.5

 

70.0

55.8

81.2

Association with commercial products

60.8

47.5

72.7

 

71.2

59.1

80.8

 

60.0

45.8

72.7

Content

0.3

0.1

0.9

 

3.9

1.1

12.3

 

0.0

n.a.

n.a.

Identify advertising content

74.9

61.8

84.6

 

86.5

76.0

92.9

 

74.0

60.0

84.4

Describe editorial policy

5.1

1.8

13.5

 

19.2*

11.4

30.5

 

4.0

1.0

14.9

Authorship

11.4

5.6

22.0

 

30.8*

20.9

42.9

 

10.0

4.2

22.1

Privacy*

75.3

62.1

85.0

 

92.3*

82.9

96.7

 

74.0

60.0

84.4

Privacy policy

79.1

66.3

88.0

 

94.2*

85.3

97.9

 

78.0

64.3

87.5

Describe protection of personal information

75.3

62.1

85.0

 

92.3*

82.9

96.7

 

74.0

60.0

84.4

User Feedback

58.8

45.5

70.9

 

69.2

57.1

79.2

 

58.0

43.9

71.0

Feedback mechanism

58.8

45.5

70.9

 

69.2

57.1

79.2

 

58.0

43.9

71.0

Content Updating

0.1

0.02

0.8

 

1.9

0.3

10.2

 

0.0

n.a.

n.a.

Display date createda

4.5

1.4

13.5

 

11.5

5.8

21.7

 

4.0

1.0

14.9

Display date reviewed or updateda*

3.2

1.0

9.9

 

19.2

11.4

30.5

 

2.0

0.3

13.2

 

Source:          Computations by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

 

Note:              All percentages and confidence intervals are weighted.

                       CI= Confidence Interval

                       n.a. = Not applicable due to a zero estimate and standard error

                       Shading indicates estimates that are unreliable, due to large standard error relative to small percentage estimates.

 

a This criterion element must be fulfilled for all three pages of health content evaluated.

*Difference in estimated percentages for "most frequently visited sites" compared to "remainder sites" is statistically significant at the 95 percent

level of confidence, based on student's t-test of independent samples.

 

Figure 3 shows the estimated frequency of compliance with the elements of the Identity criterion for frequently visited websites and the remainder, by the number elements in compliance.

Figure 3. Compliance of Frequently Visited Sites and Remainder Sites with Identity Criterion, by Number of Disclosure Elements in Compliance
Figure 3

View text version of Figure 3.

Purpose

Compliance with the Purpose criterion requires disclosure of three elements: (1) a statement of the purpose or mission of the website (Mission), (2) uses and limitations of the services provided (Uses), and (3) a statement about any association with commercial products or services (Commercial Products). As shown in Table 5, 35 percent of all websites disclose all three elements, although a larger percentage (between 61 and 71 percent) provide statements that comply with at least one of the three elements (often in legal disclaimers included somewhere in the website).

Compliance with all three elements is substantially higher among the websites most frequently visited (52 percent) than among the remainder websites (34 percent), and the difference is statistically significant at the 0.05 level (Figure 4). However, we did not find statistically significant differences between the two strata in the frequency of disclosure of the individual elements included in this criterion, nor in the mean number of elements in compliance.

Figure 4. Compliance of Frequently Visited Sites and Remainder Sites with Purpose Criterion, by Number of Disclosure Elements in Compliance
Figure 4

View text version of Figure 4.


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