Objective: To examine the current status of interactive health communication (IHC) and propose evidence-based approaches to improve the quality of such applications.
Participants: The Science Panel on Interactive Communication and Health, a 14-member, nonfederal panel with expertise in clinical medicine and nursing, public health, media and instructional design, health systems engineering, decision sciences, computer and communication technologies, and health communication, convened by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, US Department of Health and Human Services.
Evidence: Published studies, online resources, expert panel opinions, and opinions from outside experts in fields related to IHC.
Consensus process: The panel met 9 times during more than 2 years. Government agencies and private-sector experts provided review and feedback on the panel's work.
Conclusions: Interactive health communication applications have great potential to improve health, but they may also cause harm. To date, few applications have been adequately evaluated. Physicians and other health professionals should promote and participate in an evidence-based approach to the development and diffusion of IHC applications and endorse efforts to rigorously evaluate the safety, quality, and utility of these resources. A standardized reporting template is proposed to help developers and evaluators of IHC applications conduct evaluations and disclose their results and to help clinicians, purchasers, and consumers judge the quality of IHC applications.