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

Final Report - May 30, 2006


Findings


Summary Estimates of Compliance

Appendix C displays the results of our analyses.

Because none of the 102 health websites reviewed for this analysis fully met all six of the disclosure criteria, we are unable to produce an overall estimate of the current level of their compliance with Healthy People 2010 Objective 11-4. However, these data strongly suggest that full compliance is likely to be extremely low. Although 90 percent of health websites comply with one or more criteria, only 3 percent comply with more than three. Ten percent of all health websites meet none of the six criteria. Figure 1 displays estimates of compliance for all health websites and the most-frequently-visited sites, by the number of criteria in compliance.

Figure 1. Estimates of Compliance for All Health Websites and Frequently Visited Sites, by Number of Criteria in Compliance
Figure 1

View text version of Figure 1.

Of the six criteria, Privacy is met most often (by an estimated 75 percent of all health websites), followed by User Feedback (59 percent), Purpose (35 percent), and Identity (9 percent). We should note that compliance was higher across all criteria among the most frequently visited websites. For example, nearly all of the websites in this stratum met the Privacy criterion (92%), the majority met the User Feedback criterion (69 percent), and about half met the Purpose criterion (52 percent). We found only 2 of the 102 websites we reviewed to be in compliance with the Content criterion and only 1 in compliance with Content Updating-numbers too low, given our sample size, to yield reliable estimates of overall compliance on these two criteria.

Figure 2 displays estimates of compliance for all health websites and the sites most frequently visited, by each of the six criteria.

Figure 2. Estimates of Compliance for All Health Websites and Frequently Visited Sites, by Criterion
Figure 2

View text version of Figure 2.

As Figures 1 and 2 illustrate, estimates of percentage compliance among the websites most frequently visited are notably higher than for all health websites reviewed, in terms both of the total number of criteria in compliance and of compliance on individual criteria. However, we found the differences in percentages of compliant websites between the most-frequently-visited websites and the remainder to be statistically significant at the 0.05 level of significance only on the Purpose and Privacy criteria (Appendix C).

In the following section, we discuss in greater detail the level of compliance with disclosure elements that are included within each of the six criteria.


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