Application: Evaluating Online Health Information
The Internet is a wonderful resource for health information; however, how can the reader determine if the information is accurate and unbiased? For this week’s Application Assignment, choose a health information issue with recommended treatment choices from an online source. Examples include (but are not limited to) treatments for high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, head aches, etc.
Using the article, “Evaluating Health Web Sites for Research and Practice” (Wilkas, 2002), evaluate the web site (e.g. http://www.webmd.com/) you have selected on your health topic of choice. In a 2-3 page essay, discuss the credibility of your web site, specifically addressing the following criteria:
- Name of website and URL
- Authority: Can you easily identify who is responsible for the web site/information? If so, what are the author or group/s’ credentials and affiliations listed?
- Objectivity: Is the web site sponsored by an interest group, corporation, or advertiser that might sway the objectivity of the content? Does the language and tone used seemed biased? How much commercial advertising is on the page, and is the web site creator easily identified? Are contrasting points of view presented, or does the information seem all one-sided?
- Coverage/comprehensiveness/uniqueness: Compared to other web sites that relate to this topic, does this web site cover the issue in great depth? Does the web site add to anything new to the body of knowledge and to what already exists on the Internet? Does the site present the information for a particular audience? To whom and how do you know? Are there any unique features on the web site?
- Accuracy: Are there any misspellings or typographical errors visible that may cause you to question the reliability of the information? Does the information provided appear to be current and accurate? Is there a date listed anywhere on the web site that indicates when the site was published/updated? Are statements supported by facts and references or sources listed? Do these sources/references appear timely (within the last ten years) and from peer-reviewed or scholarly sources? Are there working web links on the web site?
- Quality of Writing and Layout: Is the text on the page easily read? Is the content well-written? Are the language and vocabulary used suited for a general audience or is the language technical and difficult? Are there different language versions of the web site available? Are there subtitles and headers used to organize the content? Is navigation from page to page easy? Is there a search mechanism on the site where one could type in key words or topics to find specific information?
- Overall Impression: Considering all criteria above, do you find this web site to be a credible source? As a health professional serving as a resource person, would you recommend this site to someone looking for information on this health topic? Please explain.
Note: Be sure to properly reference/cite the Wilkas (2002) article as well as the web site you
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