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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.

Author information

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

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

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.

METHODS:

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.

RESULTS:

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).

CONCLUSIONS:

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.

PMID:
19024231
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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