Interventions to support consumer evaluation of online health information credibility: A scoping review.

4 April, 2021

Citation, abstract and a comment from me below.

CITATION: Song S, Zhang Y, Yu B. Interventions to support consumer evaluation of online health information credibility: A scoping review. International Journal of Medical Informatics. 2020;145:104321.


PURPOSE: Various interventions have been designed to help consumers better evaluate the credibility of online health information (OHI). However, assessing information credibility remained the most widely reported challenge by online health consumers. This review aims to provide an overview of major intervention approaches for improving consumer ability to evaluate OHI credibility in order to identify opportunities for future interventions. METHODS: A scoping review was performed. Seven relevant scientific databases were searched to identify articles that report the design and/or evaluation of interventions to support, facilitate, or assist consumers in assessing the credibility of OHI. Thirty-one articles met the inclusion criteria. Relevant content was extracted from the articles and all codes were validated by second coders. RESULTS: Three major intervention approaches for enhancing consumers' ability to evaluate OHI credibility were identified: educational program, algorithm, and interactive interface. The design of most interventions (particularly the credibility evaluation component) lacked the guidance of theories, and very few studies systematically evaluated their effectiveness in real online search contexts. Few interventions can provide spontaneous support to consumers while they search online. CONCLUSION: Our understanding of what theoretical constructs contribute to effective OHI credibility evaluation interventions and how intervention outcomes should be measured remained limited. Future efforts need to focus on the design, development, test, and evaluation of theory-guided OHI credibility evaluation interventions that are scalable, sustainable, and can provide real-time support to consumers.

Comment (NPW): The full text is restricted-access but is available through ResearchGate (put 'Interventions to support consumer evaluation of online health information credibility' into google and the paper can be downloaded). The full text says 'We intentionally excluded two types of interventions. First is quality checklists (e.g., DISCERN [20])... Second is third-party certifications, such as HONcode ( The design and application of this intervention approach are comparatively straightforward, and the inclusion of it does not contribute to the goal of the current review to achieve a comprehensive view of the current approaches to enable consumers to evaluate OHI credibility better.' I don't understand the rationale behind excluding HON on this basis.

Tha authors say: 'We also excluded interventions that create and curate high-quality websites, search engines, or portals to provide disease-specific information to patients with a specific health condition (e.g., cancer, diabetes,

depression) [22–26], because they focus on providing high-quality sources to consumers instead of enhancing their ability to assess OHI.' I'm not clear of the reasoning for this either. I have invited the authors to join us.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children

Let's build a future where every person has access to reliable healthcare information and is protected from misinformation - Join HIFA:

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health movement (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: