Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2013 Aug 6;2(2):e25.
doi: 10.2196/resprot.2675.

Portal for Families Overcoming Neurodevelopmental Disorders (PFOND): Implementation of a Software Framework for Facilitated Community Website Creation by Nontechnical Volunteers

Free PMC article

Portal for Families Overcoming Neurodevelopmental Disorders (PFOND): Implementation of a Software Framework for Facilitated Community Website Creation by Nontechnical Volunteers

Xin Cynthia Ye et al. JMIR Res Protoc. .
Free PMC article


Background: The Portal for Families Overcoming Neurodevelopmental Disorders (PFOND) provides a structured Internet interface for the sharing of information with individuals struggling with the consequences of rare developmental disorders. Large disease-impacted communities can support fundraising organizations that disseminate Web-based information through elegant websites run by professional staff. Such quality resources for families challenged by rare disorders are infrequently produced and, when available, are often dependent upon the continued efforts of a single individual.

Objective: The project endeavors to create an intuitive Web-based software system that allows a volunteer with limited technical computer skills to produce a useful rare disease website in a short time period. Such a system should provide access to emerging news and research findings, facilitate community participation, present summary information about the disorder, and allow for transient management by volunteers who are likely to change periodically.

Methods: The prototype portal was implemented using the WordPress software system with both existing and customized supplementary plug-in software modules. Gamification scoring features were implemented in a module, allowing editors to measure progress. The system was installed on a Linux-based computer server, accessible across the Internet through standard Web browsers.

Results: A prototype PFOND system was implemented and tested. The prototype system features a structured organization with distinct partitions for background information, recent publications, and community discussions. The software design allows volunteer editors to create a themed website, implement a limited set of topic pages, and connect the software to dynamic RSS feeds providing information about recent news or advances. The prototype was assessed by a fraction of the disease sites developed (8 out of 27), including Aarskog-Scott syndrome, Aniridia, Adams-Oliver syndrome, Cat Eye syndrome, Kabuki syndrome, Leigh syndrome, Peters anomaly, and Rothmund-Thomson syndrome. The editor progress score was used to measure performance for a portion of sites.

Conclusions: The PFOND system provides a convenient and structured Internet resource for the facilitated creation of information resources for families confronted by rare disorders. The system empowers volunteers to participate in the creation of quality content, while allowing for the inevitable turnover of contributors over time. The next phase of PFOND development will focus on volunteer participation in system development and community engagement.

Keywords: consumer participation; inborn genetic disease; medical genetics; medical informatics; rare disease; social media.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: None declared.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Introducing PFOND. Screenshots of the PFOND system homepage surrounded by images of selected disorder home pages, including aniridia, Cat Eye Syndrome, and Rothmund-Thomson syndrome.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Selected components of a PFOND site for Kabuki Syndrome (Home page, About page, News page).
Figure 3
Figure 3
Selected views of the PFOND editor interface.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Achievements scoring system.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 1 article


    1. Eysenbach G, Köhler C. Health-related searches on the Internet. JAMA. 2004 Jun 23;291(24):2946. doi: 10.1001/jama.291.24.2946. - DOI - PubMed
    1. Fox S. Pew Internet. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project; 2011. [2013-07-16]. The Social Life of Health Information, 2011
    1. Fox S, Duggan M. Pew Internet. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project; 2013. [2013-07-12]. Health Online 2013
    1. Wood FB, Benson D, LaCroix EM, Siegel ER, Fariss S. Use of Internet audience measurement data to gauge market share for online health information services. J Med Internet Res. 2005 Jul 1;7(3):e31. doi: 10.2196/jmir.7.3.e31. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Gonzaga-Jauregui C, Lupski JR, Gibbs RA. Human genome sequencing in health and disease. Annu Rev Med. 2012;63:35–61. doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-051010-162644. - DOI - PMC - PubMed