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WebMD Website Evaluation with Harris’s Tools

Introduction

With the advent of the internet, there are so many websites online, some have authentic information while others do not. It is important to have the know-how of collecting authentic information from a website. This paper analyzes the website www.webmd.com with website evaluation tools provided by Prof. Robert Harris.

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Pre-evaluation

Websites are updated regularly and this makes it challenging to evaluate the reliability and accuracy of any given website. However, Professor Robert Harris has developed a rationale for analyzing websites. Professor Harris (2010) has engineered the CARS (Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support) checklist. Harris indicates that the initial stage of website evaluation begins before conducting any search on the web. In line with this guidance, I selected the intended topic; I wanted a website that offers educative information on health-related issues to the general public. Having been guided by Prof. Harris’s CARS checklist, I chose www.webmd.com.

Webmd.com (About Us 2014) is a commercial website belonging to WebMD Company and was founded in 2005. This website has hundreds of articles, which highlight the statistics, causes, management, and prevention of various diseases. It offers verified information on health-related matters for public access. Webmd.com offers educative information on how to live a healthy life by illustrating what has to be done and how it should be done. On top of that, visitors of this website can utilize the symptoms checker tool. A visitor can enter the symptoms that they have and this guides them in getting to know the medical condition they might be having. Webmed.com has numerous articles on health and they can be retrieved by searching for an item through the search window. Articles have been categorized alphabetically as well as based on other characteristics such as drugs and supplements, family and pregnancy, healthy living, news, and experts. On top of that, webmed.com offers daily health tips, provides geographical data of any given disease, and provides a tool that helps people assess their likelihood of having or managing various conditions. Webmed.com has sponsored links offering health solutions.

Credibility

On the home page, various aspects have been highlighted. First, at the bottom of the page, it has been indicated that this website does not provide diagnosis or medical consultation; it only provides educative information. Those who visit this website are advised to consult their doctors if they have any medical problems. Those who have medical conditions that warrant emergency services have been advised to call 911. The information given on this website appears to be credible. There is a page titled ‘about WebMD’; on this page, it has been indicated that the editorial staff that provides and reviews the information posted on this website is comprised of qualified journalists and medical professionals.

Medical professionals provide medical information from MedicineNet.com. Anyone who wishes to meet the website’s medical team has an opportunity to book an appointment. This website has received hundreds of awards from various bodies because it provides detailed and credible medical information, reference materials, and online community programs to consumers. Consumers can contact the website’s editorial team through a ‘contact us form. Webmd.com has editorial and privacy policies and terms of use, which guide the general management of its operations.

This website’s news and information are updated by a special office known as the editorial team. There are hundreds of publications on this site and the authors responsible for those publications are boldly indicated. Most importantly, the provided information is cited accordingly. For instance, an article on flu highlights the causes and management of this disease. On every page, there is a note indicating the last time that page was updated. The article has a map, which indicates regions where flu is prevalent. This confirms the credibility of the information listed on this website. According to Prof. Harris’s checklist on credibility, a website that has verifiable information qualifies to be termed as credible.

Accuracy

In terms of accuracy, webmd.com provides not only balanced but also fair and accurate information. The editorial team verifies the information that is posted on the website. This team has qualified medical professionals, as well as competent journalists. As such, this website provides customized health information that can be understood by everyone without necessarily having a medical background. The information is educative, and it has been put in as simple language as possible so that consumers can understand the message that is being broadcasted easily. Every page is updated regularly.

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Substantiation of the claims made on the website is boosted by the use of scholarly and reliable information such as journal articles, government publications, and medical bodies among others. For instance, I intended to find out more about cardiovascular diseases. Upon submitting the query, a page with information on cardiovascular diseases opened up; it highlighted the latest statistics, symptoms, and management guidelines. This site has a search window where a visitor of the website can type any question and submit a search request. Information that is in the website’s database is easily accessible through the search window. If the information is not in the website’s database, the visitor is informed accordingly. Truth be told, this website has a huge library of health-related information.

A tour on the webmd.com website reveals the rich medical information that is available.

Reasonableness

The information posted on this website is exceptionally reasonable. The press team as indicated earlier ensures that the information available at the site is verifiable. This ensures that it is not sentimental, but factual. The idea of sourcing information from other government agencies, scholarly journals, and medical bodies is an indication that webmd.com endeavors to provide reasonable health information to consumers. Critical information such as statistics of a given disease, mortalities, and morbidities allows an individual to compare previous and latest statistics. In addition, a detailed explanation is given to account for the differences in the reported figures. The most significant aspect in terms of reasonableness is that the editorial team has given a bold message that webmd.com provides neither medical diagnosis nor treatment; the information provided should be used as a guide. In addition, there are terms of use, which guide the operations of this business. The existence of advertisement, privacy, and editorial policies is a clear indication that this website is reasonable.

However, the reasonableness of the information given by sponsored links on this website is questionable. Webmd.com has indicated that it is not responsible for the information that is provided by sponsored links. This approach surprises as one wonders whether such information is credible. Webmd.com is a commercial website; it generates revenue from the traffic of visits to the site. Advertisers pay webmd.com to post adverts on the sites since this website attracts millions of people. For this reason, some sponsored links may provide unverifiable information. This aspect questions the accuracy and credibility of dot-com websites.

Support

The aspect of corroboration is easily evident following a tour on webmd.com. As indicated earlier, critical information such as statistics of a given disease comes from reliable sources. Webmd.com has a news and experts section that provides the latest medical news and regulations from various sources such as the FDA, Congress, international medical bodies, and blogs. In addition, this website collaborates with other sponsors in the provision of medical information. For instance, on the home page, there are various sponsored links, which provide more information on several topics. For example, there is a link to controlling diabetes. Webmed.com indicates that it is not responsible for the information provided by sponsored links. However, if the reported data was extracted from other sources, those sources are listed at the end of the page.

Conclusion

Searching for accurate health-related information on the web is challenging. There are tons of inaccurate medical information on the web, especially from dot-com domains. Most dot-com websites have been commercialized. This aspect limits such a website’s credibility and accuracy. However, the checklist documented by Prof. Harris has been of exceptional help. This tool offers guidance when selecting a website with accurate and verifiable information. The rationale prepared by Prof. Harris has widened my scope of website evaluation. Using Prof. Harris’s checklist, I have garnered confidence to search for information on dot-com websites. This tool will be of exceptional help in my studies, as it will guide me to locate essential medical information.

References

About Us. (2014). Web.

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Harris, R. A. (2010). Evaluating Internet Research Sources. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, July 11). WebMD Website Evaluation with Harris’s Tools. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/webmd-website-evaluation-with-harriss-tools/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, July 11). WebMD Website Evaluation with Harris’s Tools. https://studycorgi.com/webmd-website-evaluation-with-harriss-tools/

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"WebMD Website Evaluation with Harris’s Tools." StudyCorgi, 11 July 2022, studycorgi.com/webmd-website-evaluation-with-harriss-tools/.

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StudyCorgi. "WebMD Website Evaluation with Harris’s Tools." July 11, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/webmd-website-evaluation-with-harriss-tools/.

References

StudyCorgi. 2022. "WebMD Website Evaluation with Harris’s Tools." July 11, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/webmd-website-evaluation-with-harriss-tools/.

References

StudyCorgi. (2022) 'WebMD Website Evaluation with Harris’s Tools'. 11 July.

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