Web Geekery in Recent Literature, 3/24/2008

Wikis in HIM education:

Perspect Health Inf Manag. 2008 Jan 30;5:1. (Free full text: HTML | PDF)
Using wiki in an online record documentation systems course.
Harris ST, Zeng X.

College of Allied Health Sciences at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, USA.

We report a case study using a wiki tool, Confluence, including a brief history, current status, and motivations for using Confluence. We describe how we created two spaces on Confluence for two consecutive classes, 2006 and 2007, in a health information management baccalaureate online course, Record Documentation Systems. The 2006 class contained 12 groups consisting of 52 students. The 2007 class contained six groups consisting of 30 students. We describe how two collaborative pages for each of the groups are created and used by the groups for the group project. Survey results illustrated that 44 percent of the students in 2006 and 50 percent in 2007 agree Confluence is a tool for facilitating learning; 58 percent in 2006 and 50 percent in 2007 agree it is a tool for student activities; 52 percent in 2006 and 36 percent in 2007 agree it is a medium for reflective group interaction; and 38 percent in 2006 and 36 percent in 2007 want to see its application in other courses.

PMID: 18311325


J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Nov;13(9):1035-43.
Evaluation of internet websites marketing herbal weight-loss supplements to consumers.
Jordan MA, Haywood T.

Midwestern University, College of Pharmacy-Glendale, Glendale, AZ 85308, USA. mjorda@midwestern.edu

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate the quality and quantity of drug information available to consumers on Internet websites marketing herbal weight-loss dietary supplements in the United States. METHODS: We conducted an Internet search using the search engines Yahoo and Google and the keywords “herbal weight loss.” Website content was evaluated for the presence of active/inactive ingredient names and strengths and other Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements. Information related to drug safety for the most common herbal ingredients in the products evaluated was compared against standard herbal drug information references. RESULTS: Thirty-two (32) websites were evaluated for labeling requirements and safety information. All sites listed an FDA disclaimer statement and most sites (84.4%) listed active ingredients, although few listed strengths or inactive ingredients. Based on the drug information for the most common ingredients found in the weight-loss dietary supplements evaluated, potential contraindications for cardiovascular conditions, pregnancy/nursing, and high blood pressure were listed most frequently (73%, 65.5%, and 37%, respectively), whereas few websites listed potential drug interactions or adverse reactions. CONCLUSIONS: Potential hazards posed by dietary supplements may not be accurately, if at all, represented on Internet websites selling these products. Since consumers may not approach their physicians or pharmacists for information regarding use of dietary supplements in weight loss, it becomes necessary for health care providers to actively engage their patients in open discussion regarding the use, benefits, and hazards of dietary supplements.

PMID: 18047451

So…the potential hazards of dietary supplements are often not well explained by the Web sites selling them? I am shocked, I tell you. Shocked.


Imagine trying to conduct user needs assessments for the NIH/NLM Web sites

J Med Internet Res. 2008 Feb 15;10(1):e4. [Free full text]
Web evaluation at the US National Institutes of Health: use of the American Customer Satisfaction Index online customer survey.
Wood FB, Siegel ER, Feldman S, Love CB, Rodrigues D, Malamud M, Lagana M, Crafts J.

National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20894, USA. fredwood@mail.nih.gov

BACKGROUND: The National Institutes of Health (NIH), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), realized the need to better understand its Web users in order to help assure that websites are user friendly and well designed for effective information dissemination. A trans-NIH group proposed a trans-NIH project to implement an online customer survey, known as the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey, on a large number of NIH websites-the first “enterprise-wide” ACSI application, and probably the largest enterprise Web evaluation of any kind, in the US government. The proposal was funded by the NIH Evaluation Set-Aside Program for two years at a cost of US $1.5 million (US $1.275 million for survey licenses for 60 websites at US $18000 per website; US $225,000 for a project evaluation contractor). OBJECTIVE: The overall project objectives were to assess the value added to the participating NIH websites of using the ACSI online survey, identify any NIH-wide benefits (and limitations) of the ACSI, ascertain any new understanding about the NIH Web presence based on ACSI survey results, and evaluate the effectiveness of a trans-NIH approach to Web evaluation. This was not an experimental study and was not intended to evaluate the ACSI survey methodology, per se, or the impacts of its use on customer satisfaction with NIH websites. METHODS: The evaluation methodology included baseline pre-project websites profiles; before and after email surveys of participating website teams; interviews with a representative cross-section of website staff; observations of debriefing meetings with website teams; observations at quarterly trans-NIH Web staff meetings and biweekly trans-NIH leadership team meetings; and review and analysis of secondary data. RESULTS: Of the original 60 NIH websites signed up, 55 implemented the ACSI survey, 42 generated sufficient data for formal reporting of survey results for their sites, and 51 completed the final project survey. A broad cross-section of websites participated, and a majority reported significant benefits and new knowledge gained from the ACSI survey results. NIH websites as a group scored consistently higher on overall customer satisfaction relative to US government-wide and private sector benchmarks. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the enterprise-wide experiment was successful. On the level of individual websites, the project confirmed the value of online customer surveys as a Web evaluation method. The evaluation results indicated that successful use of the ACSI, whether site-by-site or enterprise-wide, depends in large part on strong staff and management support and adequate funding and time for the use of such evaluative methods. In the age of Web-based e-government, a broad commitment to Web evaluation may well be needed. This commitment would help assure that the potential of the Web and other information technologies to improve customer and citizen satisfaction is fully realized.

PMID: 18276580


Contemp Clin Trials. 2008 Feb 7
Using the Internet to search for cancer clinical trials: A comparative audit of clinical trial search tools.
Atkinson NL, Saperstein SL, Massett HA, Leonard CR, Grama L, Manrow R.

Department of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA.

Advancing the clinical trial research process to improve cancer treatment necessitates helping people with cancer identify and enroll in studies, and researchers are using the power of the Internet to facilitate this process. This study used a content analysis of online cancer clinical trial search tools to understand what people with cancer might encounter. The content analysis revealed that clinical trial search tools were easy to identify using a popular search engine, but their functionality and content varied greatly. Most required that users be fairly knowledgeable about their medical condition and sophisticated in their web navigation skills. The ability to search by a specific health condition or type of cancer was the most common search strategy. The more complex tools required that users input detailed information about their personal medical history and have knowledge of specific clinical trial terminology. Search tools, however, only occasionally advised users to consult their doctors regarding clinical trial decision-making. This, along with the complexity of the tools suggests that online search tools may not adequately facilitate the clinical trial recruitment process. Findings from this analysis can be used as a framework from which to systematically examine actual consumer experience with online clinical trial search tools.

PMID: 18346942


Health Promot Pract. 2008 Jan;9(1):59-67. Epub 2007 Aug 28.
An evaluation of community health center adoption of online health information.
Martinez MA, Kind T, Pezo E, Pomerantz KL.

Minnesota Department of Human Services, St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0986, USA. meredith.martinez@state.mn.us

Health care providers and patients in community health centers often lack access to online scientific and patient education resources. These resources can improve medical decision making and promote communication between provider and patient. In 2000, a community health information program, Partners for Health Information, provided 10 community health centers in Washington, D.C. with computers, training, and consumer health resources, supplemented with visits to coach patients and staff in their use. The purpose of this study is to assess the adoption of the use of online health information among staff in seven of these health centers. The methods of this evaluation were designed to measure frequency of patient referral by health center staff to online health information and to describe providers’ perceptions of the barriers and enablers to using online resources. Recommendations made by respondents can be used to modify the Partners program and guide the development of other similar programs.

PMID: 17728203


Healthc Q. 2008;11(1):104-8, 110, 4.
Web 2.0 and chronic illness: new horizons, new opportunities. [Free full text]
Seeman N.

IBM’s Global Buisness Services, Toronto. neil@ca.ibm.com

“Web 2.0” heralds a breakthrough opportunity for empowering healthcare consumers of all types, and especially for those suffering from different forms of chronic illness. As the author shows using some data gathered from a popular social networking website–MySpace.com–this opportunity may be greatest for heavily stigmatized chronic health issues, such as obesity and mental illness.

PMID: 18326388

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