WNY Consumer Health: Evaluation Criteria


When searching for quality websites to include on our resource page, WNY Consumer Health turned to the library profession's "best practices" to  help develop criteria that  for Website evaluation.  

Who

In order to generate an understanding of who is responsible for creation of the Website and it's content the "About Us" section of each website was examined. 

Is it clear who compiled the information found on the page?   

Are the author's credentials present? 

Does the website contain such phrases as "noted expert" or "prominent researcher" without following up with credentials of those consulted? 

Are there any associations affiliated with the site? Are they reputable?

Purpose

What is the website trying to do?  Improve the quality of health literacy, make a profit by promoting a product, or demonstrate a particular viewpoint?   

Does the website have corporate advertising? If yes, it was generally not included.  

Does the website claim to support one mission and advocate another? Are there any mixed messages within the website.

Currency

How often was the information on each website updated? If there was a significant lapse since the last update that website was not included on the resource page. 

Audience & Coverage

Who is the intended audience for this information?  Is the information meant for doctors, other health care professionals, or the layperson.

Is the information appropriate for the intended audience? Does the website seem to be missing any pertinent information relevant to its topic?  An example: A website claims to list every treatment for cancer, but omits one of the most common, chemotherapy.

Accuracy

This criteria can be more difficult to assess.  Without being an expert in the area it can be difficult to know whether or not the information is accurate.  However, glaring and frequent errors in spelling and grammar can be used to assess the degree of proof reading and fact checking done by the authors.

Sources 

Does this Website cite reliable sources? The Website should not contain such phrases as "studies show", or "tests prove" without stating where the full study can be found should the reader want to investigate further. 

Quality Control   

Is the website peer-reviewed? Is there system of checks and balances that aims to keep the information honest, current and reliable? Is there a website editor or a group of editors that continuously monitors the quality and accuracy of the displayed information?

Linkage

Does each website link to other quality health related websites? Do the linking websites cover a wide variety of viewpoints? Are the linking pages content current and updated? Do all the links work? Does the website provide information as to how these other website were chosen for inclusion?

Usability

Does each website have a good layout and design?  Is all the information organized in a logical coherent manner? 

Disclaimers & Privacy Policies

Do all the consumer health websites have a disclaimer and privacy policy? Does the websites indicate that the provided information is not a substitute for a professional medical opinion?  Does the Privacy Policy clearly state what it intends to do with any collected information?