General Characteristics of the Romanian Medical Webscape

Background: Although the percentage of Romanians who use the Internet to find health information is 16% and the proportion of Romanians looking for health information on the web has tripled from 2006 to 2009, no attempt has been made so far to assess the quality of information in the Romanian medical webscape.
Aim: The present study aimed to evaluate some general characteristics of the Romanian health related websites.
Methods: We investigated a sample of 317 medical sites randomly selected from the largest Romanian web directory. Two of the authors collected independently data about the number of unique visitors/month, medical specialty, site ownership, main purpose of the site and target audience. Disagreements were identified and a final common decision was taken by the evaluators through consensus.
Results: Our results suggest that the Romanian medical webscape represents a relatively small portion of the Romanian webscape. In terms of number of sites, we found that the most prominent categories were the complementary and alternative medicine sites and multispecialty sites ranking first and second respectively. With more then 80% of the total traffic recorded by the medical websites, multispecialty sites clearly dominate the virtual health space. A very small number of medical websites have a real potential to influence health
information seeking Internet users, since almost 90% of the medical websites draw an insignificant number of visitors.
Conclusions: The results of our study might be representative beyond its statistical population to the general Romanian webscape but this has yet to be verified.

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