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J Natl Med Assoc. 2008 Nov;100(11):1333-40.

The digital divide: a comparison of online consumer health information for African-American and general audiences.

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  • 1Children's National Medical Center, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA.



We sought to assess the quality of health information on internet sites with missions to serve African Americans and to compare the quality to that of sites targeting a general audience.


Sites were identified by entering "black Health," "African American health," and "health" into 2 search engines. Websites were assessed for quality and usability by 2 independent readers using published criteria.


Disease-specific information was found on 64.7% of African-American sites and 86.2% of general sites. Among these sites, 73% of African-American sites listed authors' qualifications, compared to 96% of general sites (p=0.04). Sixty-four percent of African-American sites provided date last updated, compared with 100% of general sites (p=0.001). The mean literacy level for both types of sites was approximately 10th grade. The literacy level of African-American sites at governmental and educational domains was lower (NS).


This is the first study to examine critically the quality of health information on Internet sites serving African-American audiences. Our study suggests methods to guide healthcare providers and health educators in counseling patients regarding internet-based health information. The "digital divide" is about quality as well as access.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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