Project Objectives

General objectives

As the number of medical web sites in various languages increases, it is more than necessary to establish specific criteria and control measures that give the consumers some guarantee that the health web sites they are visiting, meet a minimum level of quality standards and that the professionals offering the information on the web site are responsible for its contents and activities.

There are three major mechanisms in medical quality labelling. The first one is based on third party rating where the web site is assessed by a labelling agency, in terms of certain labelling criteria, and is asked to make some changes to get the accreditation label which is then added onto the web site. The second one examines medical web sites in specific thematic areas, characterizes them against certain criteria, filters some of them based on their characterization, and organizes the rest into web directories to facilitate access by health information consumers. The third mechanism is based on self-adherence to some codes of conduct or ethics that is nothing more than a claim or a pledge with little enforceability (such as, for instance, the American Medical Association Guidelines).

MedIEQ will examine the first two mechanisms which are currently being used by the two medical quality labelling agencies participating in the project (WMA, AQUMED). The main problem that these mechanisms face is the need for a continuous review and control of the accredited or classified web sites that means a huge amount of human effort. WMA, for instance, periodically reviews manually the accredited web sites to renew the quality label. On the other hand, AQUMED web directories are periodically updated due to the addition of new sites and changes in the characterization of the already visited ones.

MedIEQ aims to advance current medical quality labelling technology capitalizing on the results of previous work on quality labelling and content analysis. MedIEQ labelling systems will be able to locate unlabelled medical web sites and label them, and monitor labelled web sites as to whether they are still satisfying the labelling criteria. MedIEQ aims to examine its technology in 7 different European languages (Spanish, Catalan, German, English, Greek, Czech, and Finnish) to demonstrate its applicability. For this purpose, it emphasizes the adaptability of the resulting technology to new languages and medical domains. MedIEQ aims to provide a labelling system that will assist the work of the labelling expert increasing the number of labelled medical web sites and improve their monitoring.

Specific objectives

The overall objective of MedIEQ is to advance current medical quality labelling technology, drawing on past and original research in the area. The implementation of this objective will be based on the realisation of the following more specific objectives:

  1. Develop a scheme for the quality labelling of medical web content and provide the tools supporting the creation, maintenance and access of labelling data according to this scheme;

  2. Specify a methodology for the content analysis of medical web sites according to the MedIEQ scheme and develop the tools that will implement it;

  3. Specify a methodology and develop the tools for the creation and maintenance of the multilingual resources that will support content analysis in medical web sites;

  4. Integrate the above technologies into a prototype labelling system implemented using an open architecture.

  5. Demonstrate the resulting prototype in 7 different languages and two labelling applications (third party accreditation, classification).