Quality of Health Information on Acute Myocardial Infarction and Stroke in the World Wide Web

Ana Bastos, Dagmara Paiva, Ana Azevedo


Introduction: The quality of health information in the Internet may be low. This is a concerning issue in cardiovascular diseases which warrant patient self-management. We aimed to assess the quality of Portuguese websites as a source of health information on acute myocardial infarction and stroke.
Material and Methods: We used the search terms ‘enfarte miocardio’ and ‘acidente vascular cerebral’ (Portuguese terms for myocardial infarction and stroke) on Google®, on April 5th and 7th 2011, respectively, using Internet Explorer®. The first 200 URL retrieved in each search were independently visited and Portuguese websites in Portuguese language were selected. We analysed and classified 121 websites for structural characteristics, information coverage and accuracy of the web pages with items defined a priori, trustworthiness in general according to the Health on the Net Foundation and regarding treatments using the DISCERN instrument (48 websites).
Results: Websites were most frequently commercial (49.5%), not exclusively dedicated to acute myocardial infarction/ stroke (94.2%), and with information on medical facts (59.5%), using images, video or animation (60.3%). Websites’ trustworthiness was low. None of the websites displayed the Health on the Net Foundation seal. Acute myocardial infarction/ stroke websites differed in information coverage but the accuracy of the information was acceptable, although often incomplete.
Conclusion: The quality of information on acute myocardial infarction/ stroke in Portuguese websites was acceptable. Trustworthiness was low, impairing users’ capability of identifying potentially more reliable content.


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