Improving the Transparency of Health Information Found on the Internet Through the Honcode: A Comparative Study
Studies in health technology and informatics 2011; 169: 654-8
This study aims to show that health websites not asking for HONcode certification (Control sample websites A) do not respect elementary ethical standards such as the HONcode. The HONcode quality and ethical standards and the certification process have been developed by the Health on the Net Foundation to improve the transparency of the health and medical information found on the Internet. We compared the compliance with the 8 HONcode principles, and respectively the respect of principles 1 (authority), 4 (assignment), 5 (justification) and 8 (honesty in advertising and editorial policy) by certified websites (A) and by health websites which have not requested the certification (B). The assessment of the HONcode compliance was performed by HON evaluators by the same standards for all type of sites. Results shows that 0.6% of health websites not asking for HONcode certification does respect the eight HONcode ethical standards vs. 89% of certified websites. Regarding the principles 1, 4, 5 and 8, 1.2% of B respect these principles vs. 92% for A. The certification process led health websites to respect the ethical and quality standards such as the HONcode, and disclosing the production process of the health website.
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