AbstractsComputer Science

Diagnosing credible science online

by Hayley Cross

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Credibility; e-health; health literacy; scientific literacy; Internet health information; online; New Zealand; parents; quality
Record ID: 1309881
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5449


It has been suggested that there are aspects of evaluation strategies inherent in the search methods used by health information seekers to access health information on the Internet. A mixed methods approach was used to explore Internet health search and evaluation strategies currently used by New Zealand parents, with the goal of identifying factors limiting access to quality health information on the Internet. This population (parents based in New Zealand who have previously sought health information on the Internet) was studied as parents have the responsibility of making health decisions on behalf of their children, making them more likely to be sensitive to the quality of Internet health information. An online survey was chosen to connect with this target population on a national scale. Links to the survey were distributed through schools throughout the country, and information was gathered regarding a recent Internet health information search completed by 406 parents. Younger respondents were found to trust the Internet as a channel of health information less than their older counterparts. Google and Wikipedia were shown to play key roles in connecting parent Internet health seekers with online health information. Most respondents found medical researchers to be a more credible source of health information than someone who had experienced the condition. A sample of ten parent health information seekers was observed to look for health information on the Internet. A think-aloud protocol was used to gain insight into how the parent Internet health seekers interacted with online health information. Participants demonstrated only basic Internet skills, relying heavily on Google and Wikipedia to find answers to health questions. Corroboration of information across several websites was used by parents as a way of evaluating the quality of health information on the Internet. Participants described quality health information as being based on expert knowledge, evidence, or personal experience. The strategies currently used by New Zealand parents to access Internet health information display limitations in four areas: choosing a search portal; developing keywords; using the search engine results page; and evaluating information quality. Education was identified as a potential method to improve these strategies. An iBook was developed as the creative component of this thesis, where methods to improve access to quality Internet health information were described in a series of Keynote presentations. The iBook was targeted at Year 9 and 10 New Zealand students, as the potential parents of future generations. The content of the iBook was developed with a deliberate focus on the Nature of Science achievement objectives of the New Zealand Curriculum in order to help to improve scientific literacy, which has been recognised as an important feature of information evaluation procedures. The most substantial barrier preventing parents from accessing quality health information on the Internet is a lack of literacy skills. In…