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J Med Internet Res. 2006 Jul 28;8(3):e13.

Internet interventions for long-term conditions: patient and caregiver quality criteria.

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Department of Primary Care and Population Sciences, University College London, United Kingdom. c.kerr [at]



Interactive health communication applications (IHCAs) that combine high-quality health information with interactive components, such as self-assessment tools, behavior change support, peer support, or decision support, are likely to benefit people with long-term conditions. IHCAs are now largely Web-based and are becoming known as "Internet interventions." Although there are numerous professionally generated criteria to assess health-related websites, to date there has been scant exploration of patient-generated assessment criteria even though patients and professionals use different criteria for assessing the quality of traditional sources of health information.


We aimed to determine patients' and caregivers' requirements of IHCAs for long-term conditions as well as their criteria for assessing the quality of different programs.


This was a qualitative study with focus groups. Patients and caregivers managing long-term conditions used three (predominantly Web-based) IHCAs relevant to their condition and subsequently discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the different IHCAs in focus groups. Participants in any one focus group all shared the same long-term condition and viewed the same three IHCAs. Patient and caregiver criteria for IHCAs emerged from the data.


There were 40 patients and caregivers who participated in 10 focus groups. Participants welcomed the potential of Internet interventions but felt that many were not achieving their full potential. Participants generated detailed and specific quality criteria relating to information content, presentation, interactivity, and trustworthiness, which can be used by developers and purchasers of Internet interventions.


The user-generated quality criteria reported in this paper should help developers and purchasers provide Internet interventions that better meet user needs.

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