Learning to DISCERN online: applying an appraisal tool to health websites in a workshop setting.
Charnock D., Shepperd S.
This study examined the application of DISCERN-validated criteria for judging the quality of printed information on treatment-to online health information in a workshop setting. A survey was conducted amongst 57 participants attending DISCERN Online workshops. Participants were health information users-health care and information providers, consumers (patients/carers), and consumer representatives. Workshops involved using DISCERN to appraise a health website. Participants completed questionnaires before and after the workshop, and at 2 months follow-up. Responses revealed that participants accessed online health information for professional (85.7%) and personal (75%) reasons. Less than half (41%) had applied some form of quality criteria to online information prior to attending the workshop. Despite varying levels of expertise, participants found DISCERN and the supporting materials accessible. The majority (96.2%) agreed DISCERN would help users discriminate between high- and low-quality online treatment information, and would be applicable to a wide variety of such information. At follow-up, most (89.6%) reported that their attitude to consumer health information of all types had changed-mostly becoming more critical or systematic. It is possible that general schemes such as DISCERN will provide users with simple and flexible skills for dealing with the wide range of treatment information available.