"Quality Health Information on the web"

Libraries for Nursing, 22.5.03

NIPEC HQ, Belfast

Personal report by Rod Ward & Carol Nicholas (Marie Curie Centre Belfast)

[Rod] As usual with these reports it is being written "on the fly", to be of interest to those who could not attend & is by no means an official or formal report. I aplogise for any typos or other errors.

[Rod] This study day was organised by the Northern Ireland Group of Libraries for Nursing to consider issues related to quality of information on the web and the implications of the recent EU guidelines for health web sites. (see http://www.jmir.org/2002/3/e15/index.htm )

[Carol] A sizeable crowd of librarians had gathered for the LfN study event at the NIPEC offices in Belfast on 22 May '03, from the universities and further education colleges, from health promotion, and at least one health charity.

[Rod] The study day was opened by Maureen Dwyer, RCN librarian & Libraries for Nursing representative for Northern Ireland. She described L4N and gave some context for the study day. Libraries for Nursing
Maureen Dwyer
[Rod] The first speaker was Dr Tanya McCance, Senior Professional Officer at the Northern Ireland Practice and Education Council (NIPEC) for Nursing & Midwifery, who kindly hosted the study day.
[Rod] She provided a background to this new body and explained it's structure, agenda and business plan. Current work includes the development of practice development network and database of current projects. She commented on the links between their work and "Agenda for Change", career progression and the development of educational programmes.

[Carol] The subject of the first speaker Dr McCance's talk was 'The Role of NIPEC', and this was welcome to me, as I have been away from nursing libraries for ten years. The role of NIPEC outlined is to support the practice, education and performance of nurses and midwives in Northern Ireland: to make it possible for nurses and midwives to develop their practice, to implement standards and assure their maintenance, to have access to good quality education, and to work with confidence with the other professionals involved in patient care
Tanya McCance
[Rod] The next paper was by Lisa Gray, BIOME Team Leader, who described various mechanisms for the evaluation of health web sites and described the BIOME service and the evaluation criteria used at BIOME.

[Carol] The recent EU Guideline 'E-Europe 2002' sets out a number of criteria by which the quality of health information on-line can be evaluated - criteria such as honesty, authority, accountability, accessibility. The work carried out at BIOME, as described by the second speaker Lisa Gray, in the seeking out, evaluation, listing and annotation of websites in the health and life sciences will, with other initiatives worldwide, ensure that the aims of this guideline can be achieved. (1)

Lisa's presentation is available here
Lisa Gray
[Rod] I gave the next presentation about NMAP, and the Virtual Training Suite

[Carol] Rod Ward, Gateway Leader of NMAP and third speaker, outlined the background to NMAP, and demonstrated the features of this gateway: the simple and advanced search options, the browser, the keywords and classification systems used to index the materials gathered, and the criteria used to evaluate the sites found, which are common to all of the BIOME gateways.

My presentation is accessible here
VTS Nurse
[Rod] The final speaker was Helen Jenkins, Library Information Systems Officer who introduced the Health On the Net Northern Ireland HONNI web site, which has been produced by Queens University aimed at Health and Personal Social Services Staff in Northern Ireland. She described this as an ongoing project and welcomed comments and suggestions for further development.

[Carol] The final speaker, Ms Helen Jenkins, was there to tell us about the HONNI website at Queen's University - http:// www.honni.qub.ac.uk. The HONNI site provides access to on-line databases, electronic medical journals, and the complete catalogue of the university - all in a clear and simple format that is a pleasure to use.
Helen Jenkins

[Rod] Although getting up at 05.00 to get to the airport & fly out to Belfast was hard, once we arrived everyone was very welcoming.

[Carol] Thinking about the Internet I sometimes see a great haystack. Imagine having to look at every stalk of grass to find a piece that was useful - the thought of it is overwhelming. But there are organisations prepared to walk right up to this haystack and start sorting. The gateways gather what is good and provide access to it. Health website authors are being encouraged to work according to a code of ethics to provide quality information in the first place. Internet users are learning to distinguish between what is good and what is not for themselves. It is an interesting time for librarians working in the field of health, and heartening too.

[Rod] After the study day I had some time before my flight so took a quick wander around the Botanical Gardens and visited the Ulster Museum before taking a riverside walk back into town for a bite to eat and a pint of Guiness.


(1) Commission of the European Communities, Brussels (2002) eEurope 2002: Quality Criteria for Health related Websites Journal of Medical Internet Research 4(3): e15 http://www.jmir.org/2002/3/e15

The article concludes: The set of quality criteria is based upon a broad consensus among specialists in this field, health authorities, and prospective users. It is now to be expected that national and regional health authorities, relevant professional associations, and private medical website owners will 1) implement the Quality Criteria for Health Related Websites in a manner appropriate to their website and consumers; 2) develop information campaigns to educate site developers and citizens about minimum quality standards for health related websites; 3) draw on the wide range of health information offered across the European Union and localise such information for the benefit of citizens (translation and cultural adaptation); exchange information and experience at European level about how quality standards are being implemented.

If you have comments or would like to find out more about the activities listed above please mail me. Rod.Ward@Sheffield.ac.uk

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Page last updated: 14.6.03