Eating disorders on the internet. A review of the quality of Dutch websites
background The internet is an important medium for people looking for health-related information. Since increasing numbers of people are now using the internet, it follows that more and more people are using the net to locate health-related information and services. In recent years more research has been done into the quality of health websites.
aim To study the quality of Dutch (-language) websites dealing with eating disorders and to produce a representative picture of the health information (in Dutch) available to the ‘regular’ internet user seeking information about eating disorders.
method We searched Dutch websites dealing with eating disorders using the Belgian-Dutch version of the Google search engine. We traced, visited, explored and classified websites using a classification system based on findings in the literature. Then we examined the quality of these websites by means of a self-made Scoring form for the Quality of Websites about Eating disorders (sqwe). We also assessed quality using the discern questionnaire, an instrument that has proved useful in earlier research.
results Of the 141 websites that we located, 24 satisfied our selection criteria. sqwe and discern showed the websites to be of variable quality. On the basis of the search terms we used, we did not find any pro anorexia nervosa or pro bulimia websites.
conclusion The websites providing information in Dutch about eating disorders are of variable quality and, in accordance with previous research results, the site characteristics are not reliable predictors of the quality of the content. The sqwe and discern instruments, however, do have the potential to distinguish between good quality and poor quality websites.