The role of quality tools in assessing reliability of the internet for health information

Inform Health Soc Care. 2009 Dec;34(4):231-43. doi: 10.3109/17538150903359030.


The Internet has made it possible for patients and their families to access vast quantities of information that previously would have been difficult for anyone but a physician or librarian to obtain. Health information websites, however, are recognised to differ widely in quality and reliability of their content. This has led to the development of various codes of conduct or quality rating tools to assess the quality of health websites. However, the validity and reliability of these quality tools and their applicability to different health websites also varies. In principle, rating tools should be available to consumers, require a limited number of elements to be assessed, be assessable in all elements, be readable and be able to gauge the readability and consistency of information provided from a patient's view point. This article reviews the literature on the trends of the Internet use for health and analyses various codes of conduct/ethics or 'quality tools' available to monitor the quality of health websites from a patient perspective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Health Information / standards*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care* / ethics
  • Reproducibility of Results