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1.  “What does this mean?” How Web-based consumer health information fails to support information seeking in the pursuit of informed consent for screening test decisions 
Purpose: The authors analyzed online consumer health information related to screening tests to see how well this information meets known standards for supporting the understanding of test uncertainty.
Setting/Subjects: MedlinePlus documents regarding maternal serum screening (6), prostate-specific antigen testing (6), and screening mammography (6) were analyzed.
Methodology: The content of the documents was analyzed.
Results: This study showed that most sites conscientiously report that tests are less than 100% accurate, but few provide important details about the level of uncertainty associated with test results. In particular, few resources give information about the predictive value of screening tests and have little mention of the fact that predictive value is influenced by the a priori likelihood of having the condition.
Discussion/Conclusion: These results suggest that online consumer health information does not adequately support decisions about medical screening. We suggest a potential solution to the problem: metadata harvesting coupled with optimized presentation techniques to format personalized information about screening tests. Using these techniques, the empowerment of personal choice in matters of health decisions could become the de facto standard.
PMCID: PMC1175802  PMID: 16059426
2.  What are the chances? Evaluating risk and benefit information in consumer health materials 
Much consumer health information addresses issues of disease risk or treatment risks and benefits, addressing questions such as “How effective is this treatment?” or “What is the likelihood that this test will give a false positive result?” Insofar as it addresses outcome likelihood, this information is essentially quantitative in nature, which is of critical importance, because quantitative information tends to be difficult to understand and therefore inaccessible to consumers. Information professionals typically examine reading level to determine the accessibility of consumer health information, but this measure does not adequately reflect the difficulty of quantitative information, including materials addressing issues of risk and benefit. As a result, different methods must be used to evaluate this type of consumer health material. There are no standard guidelines or assessment tools for this task, but research in cognitive psychology provides insight into the best ways to present risk and benefit information to promote understanding and minimize interpretation bias. This paper offers an interdisciplinary bridge that brings these results to the attention of information professionals, who can then use them to evaluate consumer health materials addressing risks and benefits.
PMCID: PMC385301  PMID: 15098049

Results 1-2 (2)