National Quality Health Website Survey
Encouraging transparency in Web site operations is an important step in making it easier for people to successfully obtain, understand and use health information. A web site is considered transparent if it meets certain criteria. These criteria are 1) disclosing the identity of the persons/organizations responsible for the site; 2) disclosing the purpose or mission and limitations of the site; 3) clearly differentiating between advertising and non-advertising content and stated editorial policy or authorship; 4) disclosing privacy/user protection policies; 5) providing a mechanism for user feedback; and 6) disclosing the date of creation, update, or review of the health content displayed. Web sites are assessed to see if they meet three or more of these criteria.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) contracted with an organization to develop and test a methodology for measuring these quality-related information disclosure criteria and to generate baseline measurements in 2006. The methodology and baseline results can be found in an online report available at: Report on Objective 11-4: Estimating the Proportion of Health Related Websites Disclosing Information That Can Be Used to Assess Their Quality/. To the extent possible, this assessment is guided by the methodology from the prior effort and seeks to provide similar results that can be of use in measuring the relevant proportions of health-related websites disclosing quality-related information. Website-visit data for one month in 2009 were obtained from an Internet traffic monitoring service. A total of 8,980 websites that constituted the “Health and Medical” market were sorted and stratified on the basis of share of total market visits, i.e. the 172 most-frequently visited websites (representing the top 60% of market share) and the 8,808 less-frequently visited websites (representing 40% of market share). A sample was drawn from the two strata and after 40 ineligible websites were excluded, the remaining 110 websites were reviewed. Reviewers examined websites for the presence of required informational elements necessary to satisfy each criterion, and data were analyzed to obtain frequencies of websites disclosing information required to satisfy the various quality-related criteria. More than half of all websites met three or more criteria (52%). Beyond the baseline, at least two additional data points will be collected throughout the decade.