Background: Due to their working conditions, seafarers often don't benefit from the same medical coverage than the onshore population. Therefore, seafarers and their relatives often need to locate health information by themselves. While the rise of the Internet has drastically transformed the way people can gather information, the availability of specific maritime health information online still need to be evaluated scientifically. We aim here to document of the characteristic of maritime health-related online information.
Materials and methods: A web survey was performed, articulated on two complementary analyses. First, an overall analysis of websites related to maritime health compared to websites related to two other health areas relevant for the general population (dental health and otorhinolaryngology) used as control. Second, an analysis of the understandability and actionability of a series of Wikipedia articles related to pathologies relevant for seafarers using the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT).
Results: Online resources associated with maritime health were sparse and difficult to locate. When compared to other medical fields, maritime health websites were extremely poor in displaying useful information for seafarers. Available online resources regarding specific diseases affecting seafarers were mainly not adapted for a general audience and scored poorly both in terms of understandability and of actionability.
Conclusions: This study provides a general overview of the degree of adaption of online material related to maritime health to seafarers' potential needs. Considerably more efforts need to be made in order to provide controlled online materials to answer the health information needs of the seafarers and their relatives.
Keywords: PEMAT; medical information; online survey; readability; seafarer health.