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HON - Arabic speaking Countries

In 2009, collaboration with the King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Science and the Saudi Association for Health informatics on the Assessment of Online Health Information for Arabic Sites, one year study

• Collaboration since 2009
Access the entire report of this study
Access the poster about the project


Assessment of Online Health Information for Arabic Sites

Mona Al Huziah a, Muna Al Kahtany a, Rawa Al Ammari a, Roa Al Faiz a , Célia Boyer b, Majid M. Al-Tuwaijri a , Geissbuhler c

a King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Science; Saudi Association for Health informatics
b Health on the Net Foundation
c Geneva University; Faculty of Medicine; Department of Radiology and Medical Informatics

The trustworthiness of Arabic health content on the net is not yet assessed, therefore King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Science (KSAU-HS) in collaboration with Health on the Net Foundation (HON) & Geneva University, have conducted this study in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

With the development of information technology and communications, there has been an evolution in the “information age” which is mirrored in the exponential growth in the number of web sites. Yet, it is unclear whether the confidence that we can give this information is based on universal reliability criteria. A crucial concern is that patients apply the information they have read on the Internet to their own lives directly, while there is an extreme variability of the quality of health information on the Internet, which ranges from beneficial to harmful. Health on the Net Foundation (HON), one of the leading organizations in the deployment of useful and reliable online health information, has been interested in extending its activities to other languages such as Arabic. In collaboration with KSAU-HS and Geneva University, a study has been conducted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to assess the trustworthiness of Arabic health websites.

this study aims to explore and describe Arabic health content on the Internet for health professionals as well as patients in Arab countries, evaluates and assesses Arabic health websites according to HON code of conduct, identify the specific needs for capacity building, and understand the Arab health professionals' usage of online health information. Methodology: An exploratory & descriptive research was conducted to assess and describe the Arabic health content on the internet; these were, an inventory of health information sources in Arabic, identification of the typology, assessment (evaluation according to the principles of the HONcode certification), and a survey was conducted to identify confidence criteria specific to online medical content and to evaluate the specific needs for capacity building.
It was established by the team to carry out the inventory for Arabic health sites with a period of one month and a target sample size of 100 health sites. Websites were identified through Google and Yahoo search engines in addition to using health directory websites. Results & Analysis: The result of sites retrieved was 218 accessible health related sites. A sample of 120 Health Websites was randomly selected from that list. 2 Arabic websites were already added by HON team to the HON platform and were included with the sample sites list to be reassessed, giving a total of 122 sample sites. The typology was identified for the resulting 122 sites to understand the mechanisms of production; and then they were evaluated according to the principles of the HONcode to record their alignment to the trustworthiness criteria (the HONcode).
It was found that almost half of the sites originated from Saudi Arabia 46%, Egypt 15% and the least was Sudan & Oman 1%.
43% of these sites were presented by Associations, 22% were Governmental, and the least presented by Arabic health websites were Research Centers 5%.
A total of 965 questionnaires were manually and electronically distributed to health professionals. Out of which 237 were returned. 40% of the respondents were physicians, and the rest were from 8 different health specialties. Almost 70% were Saudis, and the rest were from 11 different countries. More than three quarters of the participants (79%) did not use the Arabian health websites. Almost all participants did not know about HONcode certification 81%.

Comparing the results of the assessment of the 122 sample of Arabic health websites according to HONcode 8 principles to the results of assessments in the world (French-Africa & Europe), the results stress the weakness points in health websites in Arab countries, in respecting Advertisement, Complementarity, and Confidentiality policies. There is a critical indication in the survey results that Arabic health professionals do not trust Arabic health websites as source of health information, which needs a serious promotion of the quality of the Arabic health websites, in order to improve their trustworthiness.

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