Assessment of osteoporosis-website quality

Osteoporos Int. 2006;17(5):741-52. doi: 10.1007/s00198-005-0042-5. Epub 2006 Jan 31.


Introduction: The Internet provides great opportunities for patient healthcare education, but poses risks that inaccurate, outdated, or harmful information will be disseminated. Osteoporosis is a topic of great interest to patients, many of whom use the Internet to obtain medical information. The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate measurement tools to determine the quality of osteoporosis websites for patients.

Methods: Quality indicators in the categories of content, credibility, navigability, currency, and readability were incorporated into separate evaluation tools for healthcare professionals and for patients. Websites were selected from an Internet search. Interobserver reliability and validity were assessed, and a sample of osteoporosis websites was evaluated by an osteoporosis nurse educator and compared to patient evaluations.

Results: For the quality indicators, there was 79% agreement between the osteoporosis nurse educators, 88% agreement between the physician osteoporosis experts, and 71% agreement comparing the osteoporosis nurse educators to the physician osteoporosis experts. Quality scores for evaluated websites ranged from 18-96 (maximum possible=100), with a mean of 66. Websites with Uniform Resource Locator (URL) suffix .com scored significantly lower compared to those with .gov (P<0.05), .edu (P<0.01), and .org (P<0.01). Healthcare professionals and patients were in agreement on the quality of the highest-rated websites, with less agreement for lower-rated websites.

Conclusions: In summary, a tool for measuring the quality of medical websites was developed and evaluated. Significant variability in osteoporosis-website quality was observed. Higher-quality scores were associated with a higher level of search engine match and specific URL suffixes. A validated tool for evaluating medical websites may have value in assisting patients to select high-quality osteoporosis educational information on the Internet, and may encourage website developers to improve the quality of information that is provided.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Information Services / standards
  • Internet / standards*
  • Medical Informatics / standards
  • Observer Variation
  • Osteoporosis / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Quality Control