Trustworthiness, Readability, and Suitability of Web-Based Information for Stroke Prevention and Self-Management for Korean Americans: Critical Evaluation
Lee, Mikyoung A.
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BACKGROUND: Websites are common sources of health information to stroke survivors and caregivers for continual management of stroke and its long-term sequelae. The presence of risk factors and mortality rates related to stroke are high in Korean Americans. A vast majority of this group are active Web users and rely on the Web-based information due to lack of insurance and, thus, limited access to long-term stroke care. Thus, it is critical to evaluate existing stroke websites for their trustworthiness, readability, and suitability. OBJECTIVE: The objective of our study was to provide a systematic evaluation of stroke-related websites regarding (1) trustworthiness, (2) readability, and (3) suitability for stroke prevention and self-management for Korean Americans. METHODS: We selected a total of 156 websites using search terms "stroke," "CVA," "중풍 (jungpung)," and "뇌졸증 (noejoljung)" on Google and Yahoo. After eliminating duplicates and irrelevant websites (n=116), we evaluated a total of 42 websites (15 in English and 27 in Korean) using the National Library of Medicine's health website's evaluation tool for trustworthiness; Simple Measure of Gobbledygook for readability; and Suitability Assessment of Materials for suitability. All three instruments used the 3-point Likert scale: superior (=2), adequate (=1), or not suitable (=0). RESULTS: Of the 42 websites evaluated, we rated 62% (26/42) websites as "adequate" or above for trustworthiness. The information on 48% (20/42) websites had not been updated for more than a year, which indicates poor currency; 33% (14/42) websites failed to provide the publisher and contact information, which yields poor authority; 50% (21/42) websites did not cite sources of health information, which indicates lack of accuracy. Only 2 websites met the recommended readability (5th grade or lower reading level). The suitability was also suboptimal; only 1 website was rated as "superior"; 60% (25/42) websites were "adequate," and 38% (16/42) were "not suitable." Most websites were limited in graphical directions, interactive motivations for desired healthy behaviors, and multiple language translations. CONCLUSIONS: The existing stroke-related websites in either English or Korean are trustworthy and suitable, yet precise citation of evidence-based information will improve trustworthiness. The contents requiring high reading level may set a barrier to the utilization of Web-based health information for Korean Americans with a lower level of education. In addition, supplementing graphical examples, interaction features, and culturally relevant information in multiple languages are the areas for improvement in suitability. The improved features can reduce the reading burden of stroke patients or caregivers and build their confidence when applying the information for stroke management in daily living. These strategies are especially crucial to Korean Americans, who inevitably seek Web-based information to fill the gap between their demand and access to health care for a long-term self-management after a stroke. **This article was published with the assistance of the Texas Woman's University Libraries Open Access Fund.