Caring for a febrile child: the quality of Internet information

Collegian. 2003 Apr;10(2):7-12. doi: 10.1016/s1322-7696(08)60048-7.


Aim: A small study was conducted to evaluate the quality of information on the Internet about caring for a child with fever in order to alert nurses to the variable nature of information on the Internet for their own professional use and to provide advice to their patients.

Methods: Three search engines were used to locate web sites with information about the management of fever. A total of 22 web sites were assessed after duplicate and irrelevant web sites were excluded from the analysis. Each site was evaluated against the criteria: accuracy; currency; source; original source; and disclosure. The web sites were also examined for warnings against potentially dangerous treatments.

Results: The quality of information on the Internet about the management of fever varied greatly, but was generally poor. Accuracy was assessed using five recommendations for managing fever and the proportion of web sites that included these recommendations ranged from 5% to 64%. Less than two-thirds of the sites recorded their creation or review dates. A third of the web sites did not carry warnings about potentially dangerous treatments.

Conclusion: This study's findings highlight the poor quality of health information on the Internet and indicate factors to consider when using the Internet as an information source. Nurses' awareness of the variable quality of information on the Internet will assist them to identify quality information for their own professional practice and knowledge on which to base advice to patients.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Internet / standards*
  • Medical Informatics / standards*
  • Seizures, Febrile / therapy*