Consumer health information on the Internet: an evaluation report on the Nova Scotia Health Network
AbstractThe Nova Scotia Health Network (NSHN) is a province-wide, Web-based consumer health information service provided through the cooperative efforts of various organizations, including public libraries, health sciences libraries, the Nova Scotia Provincial Library, and Dalhousie University. The primary intent of the NSHN was to build on existing community resources to provide a quality source of local and general health information. Objective – The purpose was to evaluate the NSHN from the perspective of its users in relation to the ease of use of the site and the usability of the information and content. Methods – A descriptive design was chosen to address the study objectives. Results – Study participants were those users of the NSHN site who agreed to complete and submit an online survey between June 2002 and June 2003. The majority of study respondents were white, middle-aged, English-speaking females, who resided in rural Nova Scotia. They were mostly able to find the information they wanted with little effort and in a reasonable time frame. One in four participants indicated that the information had been used to help them change their lifestyle, whereas one in three reported that they had shared the information with their health care provider. The content found on the site was very highly rated, with more than 90% reporting that the information was easy to understand, useful, and of high quality. Conclusion – The data obtained in this study was positive and encouraging. Sixty-six percent rated the site as a 4 or 5 (with 5 being the best rating) when compared with other health information sites they had visited. Individuals who visited the NSHN site in the past used the acquired information to change health care practices and (or) seek further treatment.
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