Publication date

Users' experiences with web-based health care information: qualitative study about diabetes and dementia information presented on a governmental website.

Wiegers, T.A., Hendriks, M., Malanda, U., Boer, D. de. Users' experiences with web-based health care information: qualitative study about diabetes and dementia information presented on a governmental website. Journal of Medical Internet Research: 2019, 21(7), Art. nr. e11340
Read online
Information on health and health care is abundant on the internet. To make informed choices, patients need reliable and easy-to-understand information about quality and availability of care providers and treatment options. However, the reliability of such Web-based information is difficult to assess.

This study aimed to test Web-based information about diabetes and dementia and specifically a new presentation format of care routes to see if people are able to understand and use the information.

Overall, 38 cognitive interviews were held; 20 people viewed the information about diabetes and 18 viewed the dementia information. Participants were asked what they would want to know about either diabetes or dementia, what choices they would want to make concerning their preferred care provider and treatment, and what information they would like to find to make these choices. They were then asked to view the relevant pages and comment on them. The interview was focused on general information about the condition, the care route, and the quality information for choosing a hospital. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and then systematically coded and ordered into themes.

The themes that were developed for both Web pages during the analysis were information needs, findability, usability, comprehension and readability, recognizability, care route, quality information, and usefulness. Information needs were found to be very diverse and dependent on the personal situation and condition of the participant. Several participants were unable to find specific items because they were not where they expected them to be. Most participants were positive about the layout, font, and color scheme of the test pages. However, options of clicking through to another website and indications where information can be expanded and collapsed could be made clearer. Participants generally found the information easy to understand but felt a need for a more detailed explanation of the medical terms. Recognition of the information played an important role: participants assessed whether the information they found matched their experiences. The term care route meant little to most of the participants, but the layout of the care route itself was found to be clear. Not many respondents spontaneously went to the quality information, and a number of participants had difficulty understanding it. Overall, the participants thought the information on the website was useful and helpful.

The cognitive interviews gave numerous insights into how Web-based information is processed and understood. The care route offers a clear overview of the various stages as the condition progresses, but the name care route is not clear to everyone. We gained insight into differences between subgroups of people in terms of information needs, comprehension, and use of the information because the diversity within the group of participants was lower than expected.