Nursing and the Internet, Article Critique Example

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Article Critique

The website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a site dedicated to promoting public health under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services.  It provides information on a variety of health and safety issues including immunizations, emergency preparedness, and environmental health.  The site also serves as a portal for a variety of related websites, guiding users to information which has been screened by the CDC for accuracy and reliability (Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).

The CDC site is an authoritative source for medical information, primarily because of its association with the United States government and its well-established reputation as a reliable source which provides credible information that can be verified by external sources.  Additionally, the CDC site has been approved by Health on the Net, a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure ethical and quality health information to medical professionals and the general public through a certification process (HON, 2011).  The CDC site appears to be an objective source for information given that it has achieved HON certification since once of the requirements for HON certification is that a web site provides information that is justifiable and presents balanced and objective claims (HON, 2011).  The site is incredibly easy to navigate, with no pop-up banners or advertising to distract from the information provided.  Graphics are minimal and serve to complement the various categories of information available on the site.  The CDC also has a comprehensive and easily accessible security and privacy policy which states that the website doesn’t collect personal information on its visitors unless they choose to provide such information.  Additionally, the CDC site uses software meant to protect the site and its visitors from attempts to collect private information or otherwise alter the site content (Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).

Although the Internet is a valuable resource for health information, both for patients and practitioners, it also presents a great deal of subjective and unverifiable information.  As such, it is vital that nurses critically evaluate the websites that they visit, especially when their Internet explorations are connected with patient care and continued education.  As illustrated by Cirgin Ellet and colleagues’ (2004) discussion of Internet research and nursing, this new mode of conducting research has legal and ethical implications including the need to protect private medical information and ensure that the information accessed is reliable and verifiable through other sources.

The CDC website provides information on a wide range of diseases and illnesses.  For example, the page related to cancer prevention and treatment could be helpful as a resource for professional nurses to examine local and national statistics; the nurse could also use the site to refer patients with a recent diagnosis of patient so that they might further come to understand their condition.  The site also has an archived library of featured articles which focus on specific topics of interest to nursing professionals.  Their discussion of breast cancer awareness, for example, provides information about prevention and treatment while also offering links to more detailed information about free and low-cost mammograms which the nurse could direct her patients towards.  Additionally, this site would be incredibly useful for nurses because many of their topics are also available in podcast form; given the busy nature of many nurses’ lives, this alternative would allow nurses to learn new information in an audio format while multitasking.

Nurses should approach information online with a mixture of caution and enthusiasm.  There is a great deal of valuable and reliable information available to nurses who ensure that the sites they visit are objective and reliable.  As such, the HON certified CDC site is an excellent resource for nurses because of its high standards, good reputation, and wealth of quality content.

References

Cirgin Ellet, M.L., Lane, L., & Keffer, J. (2004, Jan.). Ethical and legal issues of conducting nursing research via the Internet. Journal of Professional Nursing, 20(1): 68-74.doi:10.1016/j.profnurs.2003.12.005

Department of Health and Human Services. (2011). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  (2011).  Retrieved from www.cdc.gov

Health on the Net. (2011). The HON code of conduct for medical and health web sites. Retrieved from http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Conduct.html

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