In studies of web-based consumer health information, scant attention has been paid to the selective development of differential methodologies for website quality evaluation, or to selective grouping and analysis of specific 'domains of uncertainty' in healthcare. Our objective is to introduce a more refined model for website evaluation, and illustrate its application using assessment of websites within an area of ongoing medical uncertainty, back pain. In this exploratory technology assessment, we suggest a model for assessing these 'domains of uncertainty' within healthcare, using qualitative assessment of websites and hierarchical concepts. Using such a hierarchy of quality criteria, we review medical information provided by the most frequently accessed websites related to back pain. Websites are evaluated using standardized criteria, with results rated from the viewpoint of the consumer. Results show that standardization of quality rating across subjective content, and between commercial and niche search results, can provide a consumer-friendly dimension to health information.
- Domains of uncertainty