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Accuracy and coverage of reproductive health information on the Internet accessed in English and Persian from Iran
  1. Mohammad Rahnavardi, MD, Researcher1,
  2. Nasim Zamani, MD, Researcher1,
  3. Mehrnoosh Jahanbin, MD, Researcher1,
  4. Sara Dowlatshahi, BA, Research Assistant1,
  5. Minoo Sadat Mahmood Arabi, MD, Researcher and Consultant2,
  6. Gelayol Ardalan, MD, MPH, Consultant2 and
  7. Fahimeh Sohani, BS, Research Assistant3
  1. Didegan-Salamat Research Institute, Tehran, Iran
  2. Adolescent, Youth and School Health Office, Deputy of Health, Ministry of Health and Medical Education, Tehran, Iran
  3. United Nations Population Fund, Tehran, Iran
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mohammad Rahnavardi, Didegan-Salamat Research Institute, Unit 13, 19 Sixteenth Street, Ghandi Street, Tehran, Iran. E-mail: rahnavardi{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Background and methodology The Internet is a useful resource for obtaining information. We evaluated the accuracy and coverage of reproductive health information on the Internet in English- and Persian-language sites accessed from Iran. An expert committee decided on five reproductive health topics to be evaluated and specified a checklist of content for these (36 items in total). We employed selected keywords in search engines between February and March 2006. About one of every four screened websites (n = 200) addressed at least one target topic and were subjected to in-depth assessment. Three medical doctors independently rated each of the selected websites. Accuracy and coverage percentages were calculated for each website.

Results A total of 168 English- and 32 Persian-language websites were found that addressed the specified topics. The mean accuracy and coverage percentages of the 200 websites assessed were 98.8% (95%CI 98.1–99.6) and 45.2% (95%CI 41.0–49.3), respectively. Thirty-four (17%) websites, all in English, achieved a coverage percentage of 80% or more. Academic referencing was not present in 152 (76%) websites. ‘Sexually transmitted diseases’ and ‘family planning’ were the topics with highest coverage in both the English- and Persian-language websites studied. ‘Reproductive system and puberty’ had the least coverage in the Persian websites. The top 20 websites found for the general population on reproductive health are reported.

Discussion and conclusions Websites providing comprehensive reproductive health information are not easy to locate from Iran; in particular, Persian-language websites and those targeting young people are scarce. However, for the websites identified the accuracy of information provided was acceptable. There is a need to identify high-quality, easily accessible websites for use by both professionals and the general public and to develop new ones.

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