General Characteristics and Quality of Stroke-Related Online Information – A Cross-Sectional Assessment of the Romanian and Hungarian Websites

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Abstract

Background: The quality of online health-related information may affect users’ understanding and medical decision-making with dramatic impact, particularly in case of stroke. Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the quality of information about stroke on the Romanian and Hungarian websites in terms of completeness and accuracy. Methods: The research was designed as an observational cross-sectional study. The sample included 25 Romanian and 25 Hungarian websites presenting information about stroke for the general public. General characteristics such as website ownership, main goal, website genre and medical approach were identified by the evaluators using a predetermined set of common instructions. The completeness and accuracy of the information were assessed by two independent assessors against a quality benchmark. Results: Overall, most of the websites were owned by private commercial companies (42%), had educational goal (66%), were designed as medical web-portals (46%) and had a conventional medicine approach (72%). Mean completeness score was 5.6 points (SD± 1.9) for Romanian sites and 4.1 points (SD ± 2.4) for Hungarian sites (p = 0.017). Mean accuracy score was 6.2 points (SD ± 1.1) for Romanian sites and 7.0 points (SD ± 0.7) for Hungarian sites (p = 0.02). Conclusions: The information about stroke on the Romanian and Hungarian websites had poor quality. Although we found statistically significant differences between the quality scores of the two language sub-samples and two site characteristics associated with significantly higher quality, the practical relevance of these findings for online health information seekers should be interpreted with caution.

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Acta Medica Marisiensis

The Journal of The University of Medicine and Pharmacy of Targu-Mures

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