Methodological and ethical issues in Internet-mediated research in the field of health: an integrated review of the literature

Soc Sci Med. 2007 Aug;65(4):782-91. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.03.005. Epub 2007 May 23.


The advantages and disadvantages of using the Internet in both qualitative and quantitative researches in the field of health are readily available in the literature, but little examination has been made of the factors to be considered in developing and running Internet-mediated research. A bibliographic search of English language publications indexed in eight computerized databases (EBSCO, EMBASE, MedLine, PsycInfo, CINAHL, PubMed, Cochrane, and TRIP) was undertaken with no limit set for the data of publication. The keywords Internet, research, quality, credibility, reliability, and validity were used in all possible combinations, and mappings to headings made wherever possible. The search revealed three key areas in setting up and undertaking Internet-mediated research: addressing sampling biases, ensuring ethical practice, and exploring the validity of data collected using an online interface. This paper contributes to the ongoing development of quality standards in the conduct and write-up of Internet-mediated research in the field of health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research*
  • Databases, Bibliographic / standards*
  • Ethics, Research
  • Humans
  • Internet / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Selection Bias