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

Final Report - May 30, 2006

Findings (continued)

Summary Estimates of Compliance (continued)

User Feedback

Compliance with this criterion requires only one disclosure element, a mechanism for the user to provide feedback about the website (Feedback)13. In all, 59 percent of websites are estimated to comply with this criterion (Table 5). Compliance is higher, but not statistically significantly different, among the most-frequently-visited websites (69 percent) compared with the remainder websites (58 percent).

Content Updating

Compliance with the Content Updating criterion requires disclosure of two elements on each of three randomly selected items of health content:14 (1) the date the content was created (Date Created); and (2) the date the content was reviewed, updated, modified, or revised (Date Updated)15. Fewer than 5 percent disclose Date Created consistently on all items, and an even smaller proportion (about 3 percent) consistently disclose Date Updated. Although both are low, the proportion of frequently visited sites disclosing Date Updated (an estimated 19 percent) is significantly higher than for remainder websites (2 percent) at the 0.05 level. Differences between the two website strata for Date Created were not statistically significant.

Overall, only 1 of the 102 websites we reviewed was fully compliant with both the required elements for this criterion on all items of health content, which suggests that health websites in general do not comply with this criterion as we defined it. However, the sites most frequently visited, on average, disclosed significantly more elements related to this criterion (a mean of 2.1 out of 6) compared to the remainder websites (with a mean of 0.9).

Figure 7 shows the estimated frequency of compliance with the elements of the Content Updating criterion for each of the strata, by the number of elements in compliance.

Figure 7. Compliance of Frequently Visited Sites and Remainder Sites with Updating Criterion, by Number of Disclosure Elements in Compliance
Figure 7

View text version of Figure 7.

13 We also tracked statements disclosing how such information would be used to improve the website (an element of interest to ODPHP) but did not count this toward overall compliance. Only four of the websites in the total sample included this information.

14 We used the same randomly selected pages of health content to determine Authorship on the Content criterion and to assess both disclosure elements on the Content Updating criterion

15 Copyright date did not count as disclosure of either element, since the pretest revealed that copyright dates were often given (either as a month and year, or a year, or range of years) without any specific reference to the date the content was created or updated. However, 66 of the websites displayed copyright dates on pages of health content, in relatively equal distribution across the two strata of interest.

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