The evolution of web-based medical information on sore throat: A longitudinal study

Vincenzo Currò, Paola Sabrina Buonuomo, Paola De Rose, Roberta Onesimo, Andrea Vituzzi, Alessandro D'Atri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The content of a page can change and is likely to change over time; this is one of the useful qualities of the Web, but also a dangerous one. Objective: To monitor the evolution of Web page contents on sore throat over a 3 year period. Methods: Two medical doctors independently evaluated 34 Web pages on sore throat. Pages were found using a metasearch engine. The evaluation factors were: the adherence of medical contents to a gold standard (American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations) composed of 5 subfactors (epidemiological, clinical, complications, diagnosis, and therapy); the completeness of the contents in terms of considered/missed factors of the gold standard; references to medical literature; and a specified last update of the page. During the observation period these sites were revisited twice, after 28 and 39 months, to examine any changes therein since the first visit. Results: The degree of adherence to the gold standard did not significantly change. Variations (both positive and negative) were recorded solely with regard to the update and references factors as well as with regard to the availability of the pages over time (18% disappeared during the observation period). Conclusions: In 3 years medical contents have not changed significantly and despite the contemporary epochal Internet revolution (in terms of, eg, technology, graphics, and access) and the increase in the number of sites dealing with the issue of sore throat, there has been no corresponding qualitative increase in the contents of the pages monitored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Evolution
  • Internet
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Quality control
  • Quality of contents
  • Sore throat
  • World Wide Web

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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