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Environmental Health Information on the Internet: Development of an Appropriate Website Evaluation Tool

Malone, Samantha Lynn (2009) Environmental Health Information on the Internet: Development of an Appropriate Website Evaluation Tool. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Purpose: This research aimed to determine how health communication, risk communication, and website evaluation criteria could be utilized to evaluate environmental health information on the Internet.Public Health Significance: Concerns exist about the quality of health information on the Internet. Environmental health plays a considerable role in public health but can be difficult to communicate effectively, especially in a dynamic and diverse system like the Internet. An evaluation tool tailored specifically for environmental public health messages on the Internet should be developed to assess the quality of those sites.Methods: A literature review identified previous website evaluation tools and general health and risk communication techniques. Using those tools as a framework, a website evaluation tool tailored for assessing environmental health information on the Internet was developed. In order to pilot test this tool, five government websites and one emerging environmental health issue, particulate matter (PM), were selected and evaluated.Results: The key criteria identified in the literature review and incorporated into the website evaluation tool included: Basic Website Information, Content (with subsections: Scope, Accuracy, Risk Communication, Authority, Up-to-Date, Links, and Writing Quality), Appearance/Layout, Purpose/Audience, and Access/Use.The website evaluation tool showed considerable practicality and ease of use in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the five websites during the pilot testing. The Environmental Protection Agency's website received the highest overall score and in the content section. The Kansas Department of Health and the Environment's website received the lowest scores in most of the evaluation categories and overall. None of the websites passed the tool's readability criteria. Conclusions: Consensus exists regarding the need for evidence-based and validated website evaluation tools. A tool developed by consolidating communication recommendations from varying fields of study provides researchers throughout the interdisciplinary field of public health with a research base and evaluation framework for future Internet-based environmental health communication projects. Additionally, the organizations responsible for the pilot-tested websites can use the individualized results from the evaluations to improve and guide their online environmental health communication efforts.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Malone, Samantha
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBurke, Jessica Gjgburke@pitt.eduJGBURKE
Committee MemberVolz, Conrad Dcdv5@pitt.eduCDV5
Committee MemberTrauth, Jeanette Mtrauth@pitt.eduTRAUTH
Date: 29 September 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 July 2009
Approval Date: 29 September 2009
Submission Date: 29 July 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: apply; CDC; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Commonwealth of Massachusetts; health belief model; Healthy People 2010; HP2010; human-guided evaluation; practice; prepare; public health implications; risk analysis; risk management paradigm; socio-ecological model; theory; adapt; dynamic system
Other ID:, etd-07292009-101122
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:54
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:47


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