Analysing and evaluating websites: locating public health within an international multi-disciplinary review of published research
Background: Little has been written on the types of public health and wider academic research published about the analysis and evaluation of websites. This paper investigates the subject with the aim of highlighting the gaps and opportunities for future research. In so doing, it not only informs academics of potential research areas, it also provides valuable information for undergraduate and masters dissertation students, and their supervisors, on an important source of accessible data.
Methods: We undertook a systematic search of published research identifying articles from 2000 to 2017. Articles were eligible for inclusion if their title contained the words website* and analysis, or website* and evaluation. A second, more detailed investigation was conducted on articles in the same sample for 2015-2017. The third round of investigation reviewed 10 articles in more depth, based on those from the highest-ranking journals.
Results: We demonstrate that research specifically about websites has increased significantly since the year 2000. Contrary to recent social media-focused research, in our research, health-related articles were found to be the largest group in the field. Research about websites focused on issues such as information accuracy and corporate social responsibility. Other health promotion and public health areas of international concern, such as ‘sustainable development goals’, were less prominent.
Conclusion: It is recommended that future research includes a focus on recognised international health promotion and sustainable development priorities.
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