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Health information for patients and the general public produced by the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care

08 Jun 2010

Kees de Joncheere, Gerald Gartlehner, Laragh Gollogly, Pertti Mustajoki, Govin Permanand, 2010

The document presents results of evaluation of health information produced for patients and the general public by the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care – IQWiG. The World Health Organization was asked by the Institute to evaluate the methods by which the content of its web site (including English version) are developed, adequacy of the Institute’s mechanisms for quality assurance, selection of topics, routine of monitoring and evaluation, quality, accuracy and usefulness of the information.

Three topics were assessed:  the reports on asthma, allergies and postnatal depression were selected for review and served as the case study. The review was carried out through study of Institute’s documents and web site, a review of published material and interviews with staff and relevant stakeholders. In their conclusions and recommendations the review team focused on areas with potential for improvement including enhancement of web site’s transparency by further development of the General methods manual, web site promotion to patients and health care professionals, assessment of the impact and evaluation of health information program as to whether and how patients and health care professionals benefit from it.

ECDC comment, 8 June 2010: Internet became a valuable tool for citizens who seek information and want to understand more about health. As the IQWiG is a leading producer of patient-centred and evidence-based health information it is a matter of substance that it provides patients with accurate, high quality, timely, evidence-based information that is published in useful manner.  Quality assurance requires development of assessment criteria and methodology that identifies strong points, weaknesses, gaps and areas for improvement of health information available on the web sites. The process can be founded on early inclusion and strong involvement of external and internal partners and relevant stakeholders. The IQWiG has concrete achievements in this field such as use of best available evidence for decision-making and the inclusion of qualitative information from patients and patients groups.  

The publication is relevant for public health professionals in the EU, and experts involved in health communication activities especially those involved in developing website directed to segments of the general public.

Link to the article

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