An investigation of the quality of breast cancer information provided on the internet by voluntary organisations in Great Britain

Patient Educ Couns. 2009 Jul;76(1):10-5. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2008.11.019.


Objective: Patients increasingly use the internet to source health information. Voluntary organisations offering information and support often provide such information on their websites. However, the internet is unregulated and information can be of poor quality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality of breast cancer information provided by 10 Great Britain (GB) voluntary organisations' websites.

Methods: Quality of websites was evaluated using an investigator-designed appraisal tool based on European Commission (EC) quality criteria for health-related websites. Completeness and transparency of breast cancer information, and usability of websites, were appraised.

Results: Typically, breast cancer-specific organisations provided the highest quality information, particularly in terms of its completeness. However, great variability in quality was identified. Areas of weakness related to transparency of information, in particular disclosure of authorship, and its apparent currency.

Conclusion: Voluntary organisations providing web-based breast cancer information have progress to make to ensure information provided is complete and transparent, and websites are user-friendly. Unfortunately, informed decision-making will not be optimised if patients cannot access quality information.

Practice implications: Voluntary organisations should regularly review the quality of information on their websites. Grading of websites allows healthcare professionals to identify and signpost patients to trustworthy, up-to-date websites. Thus, ensuring patients receive high quality information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Education*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • United Kingdom