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Quality of Internet information related to the Mediterranean diet

  • Reiko Hirasawa (a1), Kazumi Saito (a1), Yoko Yachi (a1), Yoko Ibe (a1), Satoru Kodama (a1), Mihoko Asumi (a1), Chika Horikawa (a1), Aki Saito (a1), Yoriko Heianza (a1), Kazuo Kondo (a2), Hitoshi Shimano (a1) and Hirohito Sone (a1)...
Abstract
AbstractObjective

The present study aimed to evaluate the quality of Internet information on the Mediterranean diet and to determine the relationship between the quality of information and the website source.

Design

Website sources were categorized as institutional, pharmaceutical, non-pharmaceutical commercial, charitable, support and alternative medicine. Content quality was evaluated using the DISCERN rating instrument, the Health On the Net Foundation's (HON) code principles, and Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) benchmarks. Readability was graded by the Flesch Reading Ease score and Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level score.

Setting

The phrase ‘Mediterranean diet’ was entered as a search term into the six most commonly used English-language search engines.

Subjects

The first thirty websites forthcoming by each engine were examined.

Results

Of the 180 websites identified, thirty-two met our inclusion criteria. Distribution of the website sources was: institutional, n 8 (25 %); non-pharmaceutical commercial, n 12 (38 %); and support, n 12 (38 %). As evaluated by the DISCERN, thirty-one of the thirty-two websites were rated as fair to very poor. Non-pharmaceutical commercial sites scored significantly lower than institutional and support sites (P = 0·002). The mean Flesch Reading Ease score and mean Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level were 55·9 (fairly difficult) and 7·2, respectively. The Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level score determines the difficulty of material by measuring the length of words and sentences and converting the results into a grade level ranging from 0 to 12 (US grade level).

Conclusions

Due to the poor quality of website information on the Mediterranean diet, patients or consumers who are interested in the Mediterranean diet should get advice from physicians or dietitians.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email hsone@md.tsukuba.ac.jp
Linked references
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

5.D Charnock , S Shepperd , G Needham (1999) DISCERN: an instrument for judging the quality of written consumer health information on treatment choices. J Epidemiol Community Health 53, 105111.

9.DR Hargrave , UA Hargrave & E Bouffet (2006) Quality of health information on the Internet in pediatric neuro-oncology. Neuro Oncol 8, 175182.

12.J Kaicker , VB Debono , W Dang (2010) Assessment of the quality and variability of health information on chronic pain websites using the DISCERN instrument. BMC Med 8, 59.

33.KM Griffiths & H Christensen (2005) Website quality indicators for consumers. J Med Internet Res 7, e55.

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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
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