Assessing the Quality of Internet Health Information

Summary

A summary of three meetings held by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) to address the growing need for objective criteria for evaluating health information on the Internet.

As health information proliferates on the Internet, there is a growing need for objective, reproducible, widely accepted criteria that can be used to evaluate the quality of the information. Yet the quality of health information on the Internet is extremely variable and difficult to assess.

To address these needs, Mitretek Systems convened a Health Summit Working Group for a series of three meetings that were supported in part by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR).

Seven criteria were developed for use in evaluating the quality of health information provided on the Internet.

Criteria for Evaluating Internet Health Information

  • Credibility: includes the source, currency, relevance/utility, and editorial review process for the information.
  • Content: must be accurate and complete, and an appropriate disclaimer provided.
  • Disclosure: includes informing the user of the purpose of the site, as well as any profiling or collection of information associated with using the site.
  • Links: evaluated according to selection, architecture, content, and back linkages.
  • Design: encompasses accessibility, logical organization (navigability), and internal search capability.
  • Interactivity: includes feedback mechanisms and means for exchange of information among users.
  • Caveats: clarification of whether site function is to market products and services or is a primary information content provider.
Current as of June 1999
Internet Citation: Assessing the Quality of Internet Health Information: Summary. June 1999. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/research/data/infoqual.html