Robillard, JM., Jun, JH., Lai, J., Feng, TL (2018) The QUEST for quality online health information: validation of a short quantitative tool. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 18:87.
Online health information is unregulated and can be of highly variable quality. There is currently no singular quantitative tool that has undergone a validation process, can be used for a broad range of health information, and strikes a balance between ease of use, concision and comprehensiveness. To address this gap, we developed the QUality Evaluation Scoring Tool (QUEST). Here we report on the analysis of the reliability and validity of the QUEST in assessing the quality of online health information.
The QUEST and three existing tools designed to measure the quality of online health information were applied to two randomized samples of articles containing information about the treatment (n = 16) and prevention (n = 29) of Alzheimer disease as a sample health condition. Inter-rater reliability was assessed using a weighted Cohen’s kappa (κ) for each item of the QUEST. To compare the quality scores generated by each pair of tools, convergent validity was measured using Kendall’s tau (τ) ranked correlation.
The QUEST demonstrated high levels of inter-rater reliability for the seven quality items included in the tool (κ ranging from 0.7387 to 1.0, P < .05). The tool was also found to demonstrate high convergent validity. For both treatment- and prevention-related articles, all six pairs of tests exhibited a strong correlation between the tools (τ ranging from 0.41 to 0.65, P < .05).
Our findings support the QUEST as a reliable and valid tool to evaluate online articles about health. Results provide evidence that the QUEST integrates the strengths of existing tools and evaluates quality with equal efficacy using a concise, seven-item questionnaire. The QUEST can serve as a rapid, effective, and accessible method of appraising the quality of online health information for researchers and clinicians alike.
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