BERKELEY, CA (UroToday.com) - Whether we discuss it with our patients or not, the majority of them are using the Internet for health information, and there is no gold standard by which to assess information on-line.
The Health on the Net (HON) Foundation has been in place for over 15 years to provide certification to web sites based on eight principles: authority, complementarity, confidentiality, attribution, justifiability, transparency of authorship, transparency of sponsorship, and honesty in advertising. While not a direct assessment of accuracy, attribution of sources, transparency of support, and authority of the material in question are many of the same qualities we look for in scientific journals. Moreover, it is a free and easy-to-use tool that can help users identify that at least one independent third party has reviewed the content.
Female pelvic floor disorders are prevalent and bothersome conditions that predominantly affect older women. Older Americans are one of the largest growing demographics for Internet users. We asked, how much certification would they find if they searched on-line for information? In addition, how much of that information comes from us, as healthcare providers.
Based on the first 150 results for each of urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and pelvic organ prolapse, we found a 28% certification rate for sites. Based on sponsorship of sites, there was more certification among non-profit (40%) and government or educational sites (38%) than commercial (25%) sites or those from urologists and specialist societies (23%). Fortunately, the sites in the first 50 results are more likely to be certified than those in results 101–150.
Although most of these results were not certified, the impetus is on healthcare providers such as us, with the lowest rate and the greatest responsibility, to provide more on-line information and to promote certification of our content.
For more information on the Health on the Net Foundation, visit www.hon.ch.
Kamran P. Sajadi, Howard B. Goldman, and Farzeen Firoozi as part of Beyond the Abstract on UroToday.com. This initiative offers a method of publishing for the professional urology community. Authors are given an opportunity to expand on the circumstances, limitations etc... of their research by referencing the published abstract.