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1.0 How to produce good quality information

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Judge: web sites for health

The name of your organisation should be clear and obvious on every page of the site.

Provide full details about your organisation.

This information is usually put in sections called “About us” and “Contact us”. It includes, where applicable:

  • Contact details: (a) name of organisation; (b) postal address; (c) telephone number; (d) fax number; (e) e-mail address.
  • Location: (a) map; (b) details of how to reach your organisation by car and public transport; (c) opening hours.
  • Charitable status: (a) registered charity number.
  • List of staff: (a) name; (b) job title; (c) responsibilities; (d) photo; (e) individual contact details.
  • List of other people involved, for example, Management Committee, Medical Advisory Panel, Editorial Board: (a) names; (b) role in your organisation; (c) role outside your organisation, for example, job title and employing organisation, or consumer representative; (d) photo;

    (e) individual contact details.

When you include personal details on your Web site, for example, names and photos, you must abide by the Data Protection Act.

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Judge: web sites for health

Explain the terms and conditions under which you produce your site.

Privacy

You are bound by the Data Protection Act. You must give information about:

  • whether you use cookies or not;
  • whether you ask for personal information or not, or just accept personal information volunteered by the user, for example, if they send you an e-mail;
  • what you do with this personal information.

Copyright

You have copyright to the information on your site. However you may wish to give users various permissions, for example:

  • to reproduce your information as long as this is done accurately, the source is identified and your copyright is acknowledged;
  • to link directly to individual pages or resources within your site (deep linking).

Accuracy

Explain your policy and procedures for ensuring that the information on your site is correct, for example, Expert Medical Panel, Editorial Board.

Links to other sites

Explain your policy for making links , and how you judge the quality of these sites.

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Judge: web sites for health

Web sites and their contents are protected by copyright law. They are protected in the same way as printed material. This happens automatically.

Your copyright

  • People can copy information from your site for the purposes of non-commercial research and personal study.
  • They must acknowledge you and your site as the source.
  • They cannot reproduce your information unless they have your permission.
    (a) You may wish in your ‘Terms and conditions of use’ to specify what copyright permissions, if any, you will give to your users.

Other people’s copyright

  • You may not use any copyrighted information on your site unless you have received permission from the copyright owner.
  • Ask for their permission in writing .

Linking to other people’s Web sites from your Web site

  • Links to the home page of another Web site is acceptable. However, it is good practice to ask the organisation’s permission, in writing.
  • ‘Deep linking’, where you make a link directly to a page or resource inside a site and bypass the home page, could be interpreted as breaking that site’s copyright. It could therefore be essential to ask the organisation’s permission to do this.
  • Check the terms and conditions of a site to see if they have given people permission to link to their site, particularly to deep link.
  • If your site uses frames and a user clicks on a link, the text from that other site is automatically ‘included’ in your Web site. This ‘framing’ is clearly breaking copyright. You must always ask an organisation’s permission to do this. (a) However use of frames is also not recommended from a design viewpoint.
  • It is good practice to indicate that the user is leaving your site when they click on an external link, or to make an external link open up in a new browser window. This makes it clear to a user that the linked site is nothing to do with your site.

The “Guidelines for UK Government websites” (http://e-government.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/Resources/WebGuidelines/fs/en) [Opens in new browser window], “Section 1.10 Legal issues”, discusses copyright and gives suggestions for terms and conditions that can be placed on Web sites.

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Judge: web sites for health

There are two levels to ensuring the quality of this medical information.

First level

The use of quality criteria will indicate to people that the information is likely to be reliable. Include these details with each piece of medical information:

  • the name of the author, with the reasons why people should trust what they have written, for example, their job title, place of work, formal qualifications;
  • any potential conflicts of interest, for example, the researcher is funded by a pharmaceutical company;
  • the date the information was written, with an update or review date: (a) some information, like the description of a disease, does not change very much. However it should be reviewed on a regular basis, for example, yearly, to check that it is still correct;
  • the sources of the information the author used to write their section, for example: (a) references to the literature; (b) links to other Web sites, including the date they were accessed to obtain information; (c) statements about their knowledge and experience;
  • contact details so people can check up on the information and query it;
  • links to related resources so people can read other opinions and look at other research.

Include a page on the site where you describe any quality checks or editorial processes that medical information goes through before it is placed on your site.

Second level

This is a detailed assessment of the correctness of the information. It requires a health professional or a lay-expert.

A lay-expert is a member of the public, often a patient or a carer, who has spent a lot of time reading and learning about a specific medical condition. They can know as much about this small area of medicine as some health professionals.

  • Set up an Advisory Medical Panel.
  • Ask medical experts to write material for your site.
  • Develop lay-expertise.

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Judge: web sites for health

Users could judge you by the amount and type of advertising you place on your site. The type of advertising could also suggest to users a possible bias in the information you provide, for example, if you advertised a pharmaceutical product or a health care product or service.

If you take advertising:

  • make sure the company and product are not incompatible with your organisation’s purpose;
  • keep it discrete;
  • make it obvious that adverts are adverts.

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3.0 How to market Web sites

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Judge: web sites for health

If your site is targeting groups with a first-language other than English, it might be appropriate for information to be provided in those languages as well.

Translating information into other languages is not simple.

  • There are Web sites offering automatic, computer translation but: (a) they only translate small amounts of text; (b) they only cover a few languages, usually the common European languages.
  • It needs a human translator.
  • Proper translation is more than just changing words, for example: (a) a literal translation of the English topic may not exist in some languages; (b) the translator needs to understand what the topic means to the people speaking the other language.
  • The Department of Health recommends that ‘back’ translation is carried out on all translated materials, which means: (a) a different translator translates the final draft back into English to check that the meaning is correct.

You must consider your ability to set up and manage foreign language content and whether you have the funding to do so.

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Judge: web sites for health

Obtaining endorsement from other organisations, demonstrated by the presence of their logo, or kitemark, on your site, can be helpful, but it is not a requirement. The absence of a kitemark is not necessarily a sign of poor quality. Only a minority of sites apply for them.

Kitemarks can mean many different things. The criteria used to judge sites will vary between the endorsing organisations. The presence of such an award cannot be taken as a guarantee of the accuracy of the health information on the site.

Here are some examples of common kitemarks.

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