JOURNAL ARTICLE

Evaluation of Norwegian cancer hospitals web sites and explorative survey among cancer patients on their use of the internet

J Norum
Journal of Medical Internet Research 2001, 3 (4): E30
11772545

BACKGROUND: Hospital homepages should provide comprehensive information on the hospital's services, such as departments and treatments available, prices, waiting time, leisure facilities, and other information important for patients and their relatives. Norway, with its population of approximately 4.3 million, ranks among the top countries globally for its ability to absorb and use technology. It is unclear to what degree Norwegian hospitals and patients use the Internet for information about health services.

OBJECTIVES: This study was undertaken to evaluate the quality of the biggest Norwegian cancer hospitals Web sites and to gather some preliminary data on patients use of the Internet.

METHODS: In January 2001, we analyzed Web sites of 5 of the 7 biggest Norwegian hospitals treating cancer patients using a scoring system. The scoring instrument was based on recommendations developed by the Norwegian Central Information Service for Web sites and reflects the scope and depth of service information offered on hospital Web pages. In addition, 31 cancer patients visiting one hospital-based medical oncologist were surveyed about their use of the Internet.

RESULTS: Of the 7 hospitals, 5 had a Web site. The Web sites differed markedly in quality. Types of information included - and number of Web sites that included each type of information - were, for example: search option, 1; interpreter service, 2; date of last update, 2; postal address, phone number, and e-mail service, 3; information in English, 2. None of the Web sites included information on waiting time or prices. Of the 31 patients surveyed, 12 had personal experience using the Internet and 4 had searched for medical information. The Internet users were significantly younger (mean age 47.8 years, range 28.4-66.8 years) than the nonusers (mean age 61.8 years, range 33.1-90.0 years) (P = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS: The hospitals Web sites offer cancer patients and relatives useful information, but the Web sites were not impressive.

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