Surgery dot.com: the quality of information disseminated by web-based waiting time information services


Cromwell, DA; Griffiths, DA; Kreis, IA; (2002) Surgery dot.com: the quality of information disseminated by web-based waiting time information services. The Medical journal of Australia, 177 (5). pp. 253-5. ISSN 0025-729X

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To assess Web-based waiting time information services to identify how they aimed to meet the information needs of patients and general practitioners, and to evaluate how well waiting time information was presented. DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey of six government websites in English-speaking countries with publicly funded hospitals. Sites were evaluated on the clarity of instructions about how their information should be used, and the accuracy of the statistics they contained was assessed indirectly using methodological criteria. RESULTS: The services were judged to encourage GPs and patients to use the statistics to avoid surgical units with long waiting times, but overall advice was poor. Services did not state whether the statistics predicted expected waiting times, and just one stated that the statistics were only intended as a guide. Statistics were based on different types of data, and derived at different levels of aggregation, raising questions of accuracy. Most sites explained waiting list terms, but provided inadequate advice on the uncertainty associated with making statistical inferences. CONCLUSIONS: GPs and patients should use Web-based waiting time information services cautiously because of a lack of guidance on how to appropriately interpret the presented information.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Australia, Canada, Cross-Sectional Studies, Family Practice, Great Britain, Humans, Internet, Referral and Consultation, Surgical Procedures, Elective, statistics & numerical data, Time Factors, Waiting Lists
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Health Services Research and Policy
PubMed ID: 12197820
Web of Science ID: 178298000008
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/13240

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