OBJECTIVE: To assess the quality of information provided to consumers by websites marketing medical home diagnostic tests. DESIGN: A cross-sectional analysis of a database developed from searching targeted websites. SETTING: Data sources were websites written in English which marketed medical home diagnostic tests. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: A meta-search engine was used to identify the first 20 citations for each type of home diagnostic medical test. Relevant websites limited to those written in English were reviewed independently and in triplicate, with disputes resolved by two further reviewers. Information on the quality of these sites was extracted using a pre-piloted performer. RESULTS: 168 websites were suitable for inclusion in the review. The quality of these sites showed marked variation. Only 24 of 168 (14.2%) complied with at least three-quarters of the quality items and just over half (95 of 168, 56.5%) reported official approval or certification of the test. Information on accuracy of the test marketed was reported by 87 of 168 (51.7%) websites, with 15 of 168 (8.9%) providing a scientific reference. Instructions for use of the product were found in 97 of 168 (57.9%). However, the course of action to be taken after obtaining the test result was stated in only 63 of 168 (37.5%) for a positive result and 43 of 168 (25.5%) for a negative result. CONCLUSIONS: The quality of information posted on commercial websites marketing home tests online is unsatisfactory and potentially misleading for consumers.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2008|