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Chiropractic wellness on the web: the content and quality of information related to wellness and primary prevention on the Internet

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Author(s): Evans Marion | Perle Stephen M | Ndetan Harrison

Journal: Chiropractic and Manual Therapies
ISSN 2045-709X

Volume: 19;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2011;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background The Internet has become a common source of information for patients wishing to learn about health information. Previous studies found information related to back pain poor and often contradictory to current guidelines. Wellness has become a common topic in the field of chiropractic and accrediting agencies have standards on delivery of wellness-based content in college curricula as well as directives for clinical applications. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the quality of the information on the Internet using the terms "chiropractic wellness," or "wellness chiropractic". Methods Five commonly used search engines were selected and the first 10 sites found using the strategy above were evaluated by two raters. Demographic assessments of the sites were made along with whether they were Health on the Net Foundation (HON) certified, contained standard wellness content, mentioned any Healthy People Focus Areas, and other chiropractic topics. Kappa statistics compared inter-rater agreement. Results Potential patients appeared to be the audience 87% of the time and a private doctor of chiropractic appeared to be the typical site owner. The sites usually promoted the provider. No sites displayed HON certification logo nor did any appear to meet the HON certification criteria. Twenty-six sites (55%) promoted regular physical activity in some manner and 18 (38%) had information on health risks of tobacco. Four (9%) had mental health or stress-reduction content but none had information supportive of vaccination. Some had information contradictory to common public health measures. Conclusions Patients searching the Internet for chiropractic wellness information will often find useless information that will not help them maintain health or become well. Most simply market the chiropractic practice or allow for a patients to provide personal information in exchange for more 'wellness' information. More research should be done on how providers determine site content, pay any attention to the details on their sites, or agree with content as some appear to be prefabricated sites. Website content could be enhanced by sharing of information from reputable sources like US Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health and other authoritative sources. HON certification should also be sought.
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