Evaluation of medical information quality

Jan Hrabal, Tomáš Pruša


The internet has become a significant source of health-related information in the last ten years. Quality of health-related information is often diverse and uncertain and on the internet environment it should be evaluated by a specific method. This could be viewed as an important part of health literacy skills of the 21st century. For this purpose the indicators of medical information quality are defined based on the dimension of reliability of information quality. The dimensions are derived from three-dimensional scheme by Anton Vedder and it can be applicable in the Czech internet environment. The indicators are: origin, sponsorship, purpose and intent, currency and date, citation and links, accuracy and completeness, clarity and truthfulness. These indicators were selected from established tools for evaluation of medical information quality that are used abroad, like HONCode, MedlinePlus or DISCERN. The indicators are set into the draft of methodics with the instructions for the evaluation of medical information quality on Czech websites. The methodics could be applicable not only in the Czech Republic, but also in other countries, if a socio-political context is similar to Czech. The methodics is divided into two parts: one for non-expert sources in common online environment designed for laymen and one extended version designed for experts. The version designed for expert is a little bit modified and except these indicators also includes criteria for critical evaluation of research papers and reviews. These criteria relate to questions of correct interpretation and collection of information in summaries, and questions on researched subjects, observation and intervention (whether it was done correctly or not), results (e.g. statistical test, effect size) and data interpretation in experimental papers. Both methodics for laymen and experts improves critical thinking and supports better decision making in issues related to health.


Jan Hrabal

Kabinet informačních studií a knihovnictví
Filozofická fakulta Masarykovy univerzity
Arna Nováka 1
602 00 Brno


Tomáš Pruša

Centrum pro výzkum toxických látek v prostředí
Kamenice 753/5, pavilon A29
625 00 Brno

Revised version of paper that was presented on BOBCATSSS conference 2015.

Klíčová slova

quality of information; medical information; evidence-based medicine; evaluation; health literacy; methodics

Full Text:

PDF (English)


Zobrazit literaturu Skrýt literaturu

  • Centre for evidence-based medicine. (n.d.). Critical Appraisal tools. Retrieved from http://www.cebm.net/critical-appraisal/
  • Chang, M. Y., Kim, J.-W., & Rhee, C.-S. (2015). The Quality of Health Information on Allergic Rhinitis, Rhinitis, and Sinusitis Available on the Internet. Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Research, 7(2), 141–147. doi:10.4168/aair.2015.7.2.141 | DOI 10.4168/aair.2015.7.2.141
  • Crocco, A.G., Villasis-Keever, M., & Jadad, A.R. (2002a). Two wrongs don't make a right: harm aggravated by inaccurate information on the internet. Pediatrics, 109(3), 522-523. http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.109.3.522 | DOI 10.1542/peds.109.3.522
  • Crocco, A.G., Villasis-Keever, M., & Jadad, A.R. (2002b). Analysis of cases of harm associated with use of health information on the internet. JAMA, 287(21), 2869-2871. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.287.21.2869 | DOI 10.1001/jama.287.21.2869
  • Cullen, R. (2006). Health information on the Internet: A study of providers, quality, and users. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.
  • Czech statistical office. (2013). Information technologies in the Czech health sector. Retrieved from http://www.czso.cz/eng/redakce.nsf/i/information_technologies_in_the_czech_health_sector
  • Dans, A.L., Dand, L.F., & Silvestre, M.A.A. (2008). Painless evidence-based medicine. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons.
  • The DISCERN Instrument. (1997). Retrieved from http://www.discern.org.uk/discern_instrument.php
  • Eysenbach, G., & Diepgen, T.L. (1998). Towards quality management of medical information on the internet: evaluation, labelling, and filtering of information. BMJ, 317(7171), 1496-1502. doi:10.1136/bmj.317.7171.1496 | DOI 10.1136/bmj.317.7171.1496
  • Fahy, E., Hardikar, R., Fox, A., & Mackay, S. (2014). Quality of patient health information on the Internet: reviewing a complex and evolving landscape. The Australasian Medical Journal, 7(1), 24–28. doi:10.4066/AMJ.2014.1900 | DOI 10.4066/AMJ.2014.1900
  • Gagliardi, A., & Jadad, A.R. (2002). Examination of instruments used to rate quality of health information on the internet: chronicle of a voyage with an unclear destination. BMJ, 324, 569-573. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7337.569 | DOI 10.1136/bmj.324.7337.569
  • Greenhalgh, T. (2000). How to read a paper: The basics of evidence-based medicine. London: BMJ.
  • Grewal, P., Williams, B., Alagaratnam, S., Neffendorf, J., & Soobrah, R. (2012). Quality of vascular surgery Web sites on the Internet. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 56(5), 1461-1467. doi:10.1016/j.jvs.2012.04.058 | DOI 10.1016/j.jvs.2012.04.058
  • Holčík, J. (2009). Zdravotní gramotnost a její role péče o zdraví. Brno: MSD, spol. s r.o.
  • HONcode: Principles - Quality and trustworthy health information. (1997). Retrieved from https://www.healthonnet.org/HONcode/Conduct.html
  • Kasal, P., Adla, T., & Janda, A. (2004). Evaluace zdravotnických informací pro veřejnost na českém webu. In MEDSOFT 2004: sborník příspěvků (pp. 47-58). Praha: Dům techniky ČSVTS.
  • Kasal, P., Adla, T., Havlínová, A., & Fialka, R. (2009). Hodnocení kvality webových stránek nemocnic. In MEDSOFT 2009: sborník příspěvků (pp. 11-20). Praha: Dům techniky ČSVTS.
  • Kasal, P., & Svačina, Š. (2001). Internet a medicína. Praha: Grada Publishing.
  • Kubů, P., & Kasal, P. (2003). Kontrola věrohodnosti webové informace pro pacienty a veřejnost. In MEDSOFT 2003: sborník příspěvků (pp. 57-61). Praha: Dům techniky ČSVTS.
  • MedlinePlus: Trusted health information to you. (2012). Evaluating Internet Health Information: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/webeval/
  • Menoušek, J. (2011). Validita medicínských informací na internetu – věčně visící Damoklův meč? Praktický lékař, 91(4), 230-231.
  • Mittlböck, M. (2008). Critical appraisal of randomized clinical trials: Can we have faith in the conclusions? Breast Care, 3(5), 341-346. doi:10.1159/000157168 | DOI 10.1159/000157168
  • Orizio, G., Merla, A., Schulz, P.J., & Gelatti, U. (2011). Quality of Online Pharmacies and Websites Selling Prescription Drugs: A Systematic Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 13(3):e74. doi:10.2196/jmir.1795 | DOI 10.2196/jmir.1795
  • Potomková, J. (1999). Kvalita lékařských informací v Internetu. Lékařská knihovna, 4(1). Retrieved from: http://www.medvik.cz/archiv-lk/lekar_knihovna/1999/c1.99/LK01-99.html#Kvalita
  • Rak, D. (2010). Porovnávání internetových stránek a lékařských doporučených postupů s využitím databází řízených medicínských slovníků v kontextu hodnocení kvality webových zdrojů. European Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 6(1). Retrieved from: http://www.ejbi.org/en/ejbi/article/55-cs-porovnavani-internetovych-stranek-a-lekarskych-doporucenych-postupu-s-vyuzitim-databazi-rizenych-medicinskych-slovniku-v-kontextu-hodnoceni-kvality-webovych-zdroju.html
  • Rao, N. R., Mohapatra, M., Mishra, S., & Joshi, A. (2012). Evaluation of Dengue-Related Health Information on the Internet. Perspectives in Health Information Management / AHIMA, American Health Information Management Association, 9(Summer), 1c.
  • Risk, A., & Dzenowagis, J. (2001). Review Of Internet Health Information Quality Initiatives. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 3(4):e28. doi:10.2196/jmir.3.4.e28 | DOI 10.2196/jmir.3.4.e28
  • Shedlosky-Shoemaker, R., Sturm, A. C., Saleem, M., & Kelly, K. M. (2009). Tools for assessing readability and quality of health-related Web sites. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 18(1), 49-59. | DOI 10.1007/s10897-008-9181-0
  • Silberg, W.M., Lundberg, G.D., & Musacchio, R.A. (1997). Assessing, controlling, and assuring the quality of medical information on the Internet. JAMA, 277(15):1244-1245. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540390074039 | DOI 10.1001/jama.1997.03540390074039
  • SPRY Foundation. (2001). Evaluating Health Information on the Web. Retrieved from http://www.spry.org/sprys_work/education/EvaluatingHealthInfo.html
  • Support Unit for Research Evidence (SURE). (2013). Retrieved from http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/insrv/libraries/sure/doc/SURE_RCT_Checklist_2013.pdf
  • Tavare, A.N., Alsafi, A, & Hamady, M.S. (2012). Analysis of the quality of information obtained about uterine artery embolization from the internet. CardioVascular and Interventional Radiology, 35(6), 1355-1362. doi:10.1007/s00270-012-0345-9 | DOI 10.1007/s00270-012-0345-9
  • UCL. (2011). Critical appraisal of a journal article. Retrieved from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ich/services/library/training_material/critical-appraisal
  • Vedder, A. (2008). Responsibilities for Information on the Internet. In K. E. Himma, H. T. Tavani, The Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics (pp. 339 – 359). Hoboken: Wiley.
  • Veřejná databáze ČSÚ. (2014). Domácnosti s připojením k internetu. Retrieved from http://vdb.czso.cz/vdbvo/tabparam.jsp?cislotab=ICT0070PU_KR&kapitola_id=420&voa=tabulka&go_zobraz=1&childsel0=2
  • Vyčítalová, A. (2012). Informační gramotnost ve zdravotnictví se zaměřením na rozvoj informační gramotnosti pacientů. Knihovna, 23(2), 5-21. Retrieved from: http://knihovna.nkp.cz/knihovna122/vycit.htm
  • Young, J.M., & Solomon, M.J. (2009). How to critically appraise an article. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 6(2), 82-91. doi:10.1038/ncpgasthep1331 | DOI 10.1038/ncpgasthep1331