Web versus press with a high circulation: An Italian case study

M. Cristina Mazzoleni, Annalisa Marello, Ines Giorgi, Antonietta Marchi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The problem: the quality of health-related information available for general public on the web has been widely debated, often expressing concern, in the last few years, but also other mass media supply medical contents for health consumer. The objective: To evaluate the quality of information available by the Italian people through Internet in comparison with the one published on the press with a high circulation. A general interest topic such as over-weight and obesity has been identified as a convenient field for the comparison. Methods: A sample of web sites and articles have been collected - excluding the promotional ones- in order to compare their completeness and correctness. National guidelines were the golden standard For the web sites, the availability of indications to let the user know the reliability of the site-we will refer to these as 'transparency' - has been evaluated through 9 parameters. Results: 45 informative sites and 35 articles have been found: the Italian population has a good chance of getting information. Web sites are much more complete than articles. Correctness of both is quite good Transparency of web sites leaves much to desire, independently from the quality of the content. Lesson learnt: There is probably an excessive confidence about the transparency and caution of articles in dealing with health-related topics. Conclusion: The web publishers must necessarily be educated to apply the existing good practice rules, but in the meantime also the press with a high circulation, that is read by a high percentage of people, has to improve its quality in order to co-operate in supplying adequate information. In general, from the traditional exceptionalist approach for medical information on the internet, a definition of media quality standard could be derived.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Health Technology and Informatics
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Event18th International Congress of the European Federation for Medical Informatics, MIE 2003 - St. Malo, France
Duration: May 4 2003May 7 2003


Other18th International Congress of the European Federation for Medical Informatics, MIE 2003
CitySt. Malo


  • health consumer
  • internet
  • over-weight and obesity
  • press
  • Quality of information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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