What do Portals for Doctors Offer? A Qualitative Analysis of their Features for the Enrichment of Expert Knowledge



Umberto Gelatti* Grazia Orizio*
Umberto Gelatti*, Section of Hygiene Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Experimental and Applied Medicine – University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
Grazia Orizio*, Section of Hygiene Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Experimental and Applied Medicine – University of Brescia (Italy), Brescia, Italy
Caterina Belotti, Section of Hygiene Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Experimental and Applied Medicine – University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
Sara Rubinelli, Institute of Communication and Health – University of Italian Switzerland, Lugano, Switzerland
Loredana Covolo*, Section of Hygiene Epidemiology and Public Health, Department of Experimental and Applied Medicine – University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
Luigi Caimi, “Quality and Technology Assessment, Governance and Communication Strategies in Health Systems” Study and Research Centre – University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
Peter Schulz, Institute of Communication and Health – University of Italian Switzerland, Lugano, Switzerland


Track: Research
Presentation Topic: Health information on the web: Supply and Demand
Presentation Type: Poster presentation
Submission Type: Single Presentation

Last modified: 2009-07-22
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Abstract


Background: The internet has deeply changed the way people share information, as well as the modalities of health communication both among citizens and health professionals. Great concern has been expressed regarding the quality of health information on the web, whose trustworthiness remains one of the most worrying and complex issues. Nowadays the majority of doctors use the internet to access scientific advances, with unquestionable advantages but even some problems. Indeed, on one hand the rapidity in getting information and its availability 24 hours a day are pointed out as positive features of the web. On the other hand doctors complain about wasting time in their searches: they have difficulties in understanding the best strategy to drive a web-search, and they remark the superficiality of a significant portion of the online content.
Objective: To evaluate advantages and limitations in current services targeted to doctors, we conducted a study on the websites which are presented as portals for doctors, and assessed their features in terms of technical characteristics, contents and web 2.0 tools.
Methods: The study analyzes portals in English, using the Google and Yahoo search engines through free searches and directories. The selection of the websites is currently ongoing through a scanning of the web; the sample will be explored through a qualitative analysis approach. A codebook was elaborated to investigate five areas: 1) the general orientation of the websites, including their geographical reference; 2) their technical characteristics with a focus on the tools which increase the accessibility of information (e.g. internal research engines and site maps), on transparency systems for checking last updates and counting accesses, and on informatics quality markers and links; 3) website labels, including the mention of managing companies, sponsorships, disclaimers and privacy policy; 4) interactive options such as tools that enhance communication among health professionals and enable them to share experiences about issues of relevance and 5) research and education, in the form of tools to access scientific material on clinical cases and medical events generally.
Results: The analysis will provide specific data on doctors’ portals leaders, declared sponsors, transparency, typologies and reliability of contents. Here, particular emphasis will be given to the type of interactivity of the websites as a way to evaluate their role as virtual places to share experiences and ideas, and update expertise in light of the most recent advancements in a given field.




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