ISSN 1842-4562
Member of DOAJ

The Quality of Influenza-Related Romanian Websites – Are They Any Better than Seven Years Ago?

Septimiu Daniel POPESCU
Alex Otniel POPESCU
Mihaela DĂNILĂ
Valentin NĂDĂŞAN


flu, flu vaccine, health education, health-related information quality, consumer health


The proportion of people browsing the Internet for health-related purposes keeps growing and the quality of information users find may have a profound impact on the outcome of their medical decisions. The goal of this study was to observe changes in the quality of the Romanian language influenza-related websites for the general public over a period of seven years. The 2011, baseline sample and the 2018, follow-up sample, included 20 websites each, selected from Google’s search results pages using “gripa” (influenza, in Romanian) as a search term. Two independent evaluators followed a common set of detailed instructions and rated the websites for credibility, completeness, and accuracy on a numeric scale going from 0 to 10 points. A number of 16 (80%) of the websites in the baseline sample remained accessible in 2018 but most of them had a major decline in their Google ranking (> 100 positions down). The baseline sample had a mean credibility score of 3.9 points (SD 2.2), a mean completeness scores of 5.8 points (SD 2.8), and a mean accuracy score of 7.5 points (SD 1.2). The follow-up sample had a mean credibility score of 4.1 points (SD 2.6), a mean completeness score of 6.4 points (SD 1.8), and a mean accuracy score of 6.0 points (SD 0.9). Timewise comparison tests detected no change in credibility scores (p>0.05), and completeness scores (p>0.05). Accuracy scores recorded a statistically significant drop (p<0.0001), but considering that the mean difference between the 2011 and 2018 accuracy scores was only 1.5 points, the practical implications of this finding should be interpreted with caution. However, observing these low quality scores and no improvement over such a long period of time, should be a reason for concern for public health professionals. In corroboration with the results of other similar studies, the observed lack of improvement in online health-related information quality should prompt the implementation of interventions aiming to improve the quality of sources used by online health-seekers.