To overview the topic of the quality assessment and quality control of health information on the internet, particularly information targeted at patients, carers and health consumers.
The context and background of the issue are explained. A range of key quality initiatives is described. The debates on the topic are presented. A health consumer tool produced by the author is described. Items from the literature are used to support the arguments presented.
A range of quality initiatives exists, but there is neither an internationally agreed set of criteria nor a quality assessment tool. Little evidence exists to demonstrate that the criteria are correlated with good quality web sites and that the quality assessment tools are valid.
Research is needed: to identify the positive or negative effects of the use of health information from the internet on health outcomes: to understand how health consumers use the internet and choose information sources and how this behaviour matches with existing quality initiatives; to explore how criteria correlate with good quality health sites.
This paper is a useful overview of this topic for library and information professionals in both the health and non‐health fields.
This paper raises awareness of this topic with library and information professionals interested in performance measurement. Hopefully it will stimulate research activity on this topic from this professional group.
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