Availability of information in Public Health on the Internet: An analysis of national health authorities in the Spanish-speaking Latin American and Caribbean countries Articles uri icon

publication date

  • April 2017

start page

  • 46

end page

  • 55

volume

  • 100

international standard serial number (ISSN)

  • 1386-5056

electronic international standard serial number (EISSN)

  • 1872-8243

abstract

  • Introduction: Access to reliable and quality health information and appropriate medical advice can contribute to a dramatic reduction in the mortality figures of countries. The governments of the Americas are faced with the opportunity to continue working on this challenge, and their institutional presence on their websites should play a key role in this task. In a setting where the access to information is essential to both health professionals and citizens, it is relevant to analyze the role of national health authorities. Given that search engines play such a key role in the access to health information, it is important to specifically know - in connection to national health authorities - whether health information offered is easily available to the population, and whether this information is well-ranked in search engines. Methods: Quantitative methods were used to gather data on the institutional presence of national health authorities on the web. An exploratory and descriptive research served to analyze and interpret data and information obtained quantitatively from different perspectives, including an analysis by country, and also by leading causes of death. A total of 18 web pages were analyzed. Information on leading causes of death was searched on websites of national health authorities in the week of August 10-14, 2015. Results: The probability of finding information of national health authorities on the 10 leading causes of death in a country, among the top 10 results on Google, is 6.66%. Additionally, ten out the 18 countries under study (55%) do not have information ranked among the top results in Google when searching for the selected terms. Additionally, a total of 33 websites represent the sources of information with the highest visibility for all the search strategies in each country on Google for the ten leading causes of death in a country.

keywords

  • online health information; information retrieval; health communication; google; health information search; medical informatics; patient-centered care; communication inequalities; social networking; united-states; ehealth; seeking; disparities; providers; support; ratings