What do Web-Use Skill Differences Imply for Online Health Information Searches?

See on Scoop.ithealthcare technology

Unlike most information environments in human history, the Internet provides almost unlimited and constantly changing information sources of varying and often unknown quality.


These properties pose a challenge to people navigating the Internet, in particular if information contents are highly specialized as in the medical domain. Analyses of online sources show that online health information is of variable and in most cases low scientific quality [1,2].


In addition, studies suggest that a digital divide limits older and less-educated people’s Web-use skills and, ultimately, their access to online information [3]. Cognizant of these challenges, researchers and both governmental and nongovernmental institutions have attempted to objectively map the quality landscape of the Internet [4-6]. These initiatives provide site recommendations and transparency criteria that can be used to evaluate websites, including information about data sources, authorship, or last update. Although health information seekers may be aware of such criteria, only “few…notice and later [remember] from which websites they retrieved information or who stood behind the sites” (page 576 [7]). Instead, Web users rely on and trust the first few results provided by widely used search engines, such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo! [7,8].

See on www.jmir.org


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