Background and objectives: Suspected adverse drug reactions (ADR) reported by patients through social media can be a complementary tool to already existing ADRs signal detection processes. However, several studies have shown that the quality of medical information published online varies drastically whatever the health topic addressed. The aim of this study is to use an existing rating tool on a set of social network web sites in order to assess the capabilities of these tools to guide experts for selecting the most adapted social network web site to mine ADRs.
Methods: First, we reviewed and rated 132 Internet forums and social networks according to three major criteria: the number of visits, the notoriety of the forum and the number of messages posted in relation with health and drug therapy. Second, the pharmacist reviewed the topic-oriented message boards with a small number of drug names to ensure that they were not off topic. Six experts have been chosen to assess the selected internet forums using a French scoring tool: Net scoring. Three different scores and the agreement between experts according to each set of scores using weighted kappa pooled using mean have been computed.
Results: Three internet forums were chosen at the end of the selection step. Some criteria get high score (scores 3-4) no matter the website evaluated like accessibility (45-46) or design (34-36), at the opposite some criteria always have bad scores like quantitative (40-42) and ethical aspect (43-44), hyperlinks actualization (30-33). Kappa were positives but very small which corresponds to a weak agreement between experts.
Conclusion: The personal opinion of the expert seems to have a major impact, undermining the relevance of the criterion. Our future work is to collect results given by this evaluation grid and proposes a new scoring tool for Internet social networks assessment.