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ASSESSING THE QUALITY OF INFERTILITY RESOURCES ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB: TOOLS TO GUIDE CLIENTS THROUGH THE MAZE OF FACT AND FICTION

Authors


c/o Judith Bernstein, RNC, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Maternal and Child Health, Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118.

ABSTRACT

The Internet has become a major source of health information for women, but information placed on the World Wide Web does not routinely undergo a peer review process before dissemination. In this study, we present an analysis of 197 infertility-related Web sites for quality and accountability, using JAMA's minimal core standards for responsible print. Only 2% of the web sites analyzed met all four recommended standards, and 50.8% failed to report any of the four. Commercial web sites were more likely to fail to meet minimum standards (71.2%) than those with educational (46.8%) or supportive (29.8%) elements. Web sites with educational and informational components were most common (70.6%), followed by commercial sites (52.8%) and sites that offered a forum for infertility support and activism (28.9%). Internet resources available to infertile patients are at best variable. The current state of infertility-related materials on the World Wide Web offers unprecedented opportunities to improve services to a growing number of e-health users. Because of variations in quality of site content, women's health clinicians must assume responsibility for a new role as information monitor. This study provides assessment tools clinicians can apply and share with clients.

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