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BMC Public Health

, 17:76

Infectious Disease epidemiology

Abstract

BackgroundThe Internet is increasingly a source of health information for parents, who use the Internet alongside health care providers for immunisation information. Concerns have been raised about the reliability of online immunisation information, however to date there has been no audit of the quality or quantity of what is available to Australian parents. The objective of this study was to address this gap by simulating a general online search for immunisation information, and assessing the quality and quantity of the web sites returned by the search.

MethodsWe used Google trends to identify the most common immunisation search terms used in Australia. The ten most common terms were entered into five search engines and the first ten non-commercial results from each search collated. A quality assessment tool was developed using the World Health Organization Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety GACVS criteria for assessing the quality of vaccine safety web sites, and used to assess and score the quality of the sites.

ResultsSeven hundred web pages were identified, of which 514 were duplicates, leaving 186 pages from 115 web sites which were audited. Forty sites did not include human immunisation information, or presented personal opinion about individuals, and were not scored. Of the 75 sites quality scored, 65 87% were supportive of immunisation, while 10 13% were not supportive. The overall mean quality score was 57-100 range 14-100 to 92-100. When stratified by pro and anti-vaccination stance, the average quality score for pro-vaccine sites was 61-100, while the average score for anti-vaccine sites was 30-100.

Pro-vaccine information could be divided into three content groups: generalist overview with little detail; well-articulated and understandable detail; and lengthy and highly technical explanations. The main area found to be lacking in pro-vaccine sites was lack of transparent authorship.

ConclusionOur findings suggest a need for information which is easily found, transparently authored, well-referenced, and written in a way that is easily understood.

KeywordsImmunisation Health information Internet search Online information quality AbbreviationsGAVCSGlobal advisory committee of vaccine safety

WHOWorld health organization





Author: K. E. Wiley - M. Steffens - N. Berry - J. Leask

Source: https://link.springer.com/



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