Researchers Say Relevant H1N1 Flu Prevention Information Not Easily Found on the Web

People often search for information on influenza A (H1N1) prevention on the Web; however, the extent to which information found on the Internet is consistent with recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) is unknown.

Gesualdo, et al. (2010) conducted a search for "swine flu" accessing three of the most popular search engines through different proxy servers located in English-speaking countries of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. The researchers explored each site resulting from the searches, up to four clicks starting from the search engine page, analyzing availability of WHO recommendations for swine flu prevention. Their research was published in BMC Public Health.

The researchers report that information on hand hygiene was recommended on 79 percent of the 147 Web sites analyzed; staying home when sick was recommended on 77.5 percent of the Web sites; disposing tissues after sneezing was recommended on 75.5 percent of the Web sites. Availability of other recommendations was lower. The probability of finding preventive recommendations consistent with the WHO's recommendations varied by country, type of Web site and search engine.

Gesualdo, et al. (2010) conclude that despite media coverage on H1N1 influenza, relevant information for prevention is not easily found on the Web and that strategies to improve information delivery to the general public through this channel should be improved.

Reference: Gesualdo F, Romano M, Pandolfi E, Rizzo C, Rava L, Lucente D and Tozzi AE. Surfing the web during pandemic flu: availability of World Health Organization recommendations on prevention. BMC Public Health 2010, 10:561doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-561