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J Community Genet. 2011 Sep;2(3):127-34. doi: 10.1007/s12687-011-0046-0. Epub 2011 Apr 15.

Newborn screening education on the internet: a content analysis of North American newborn screening program websites.

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Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Rd., Ottawa, Ontario, K1H 8M5, Canada.


The Internet is a potentially important medium for communication about public health programs including newborn screening. This study explores whether the information available on official newborn screening program websites is consistent with existing guidelines regarding educational content for parents. We conducted a systematic search of the public websites of newborn screening programs in the US and Canada, identifying web pages and downloadable brochures that contained educational information. Two researchers independently reviewed all documents to determine the extent to which they included 14 key recommended educational messages. We identified 85 documents containing educational information on 46 US and 6 Canadian newborn screening program websites. The documents contained from 1 to 14 of the recommended messages. The majority of identified materials emphasized the importance and benefits of screening. The differences between US and Canadian materials were related to the importance of parental involvement in follow-up and issues of consent and storage of blood spots. Our findings are consistent with studies of non-web-based newborn screening education materials. The results emphasize the need for further evaluation of newborn screening education, including internet-based resources, particularly in terms of the impact of particular messages on parental attitudes and behaviors.

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