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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making

, 7:26

First Online: 14 September 2007Received: 07 December 2006Accepted: 14 September 2007


BackgroundGeneral Practitioners and community nurses rely on easily accessible, evidence-based online information to guide practice. To date, the methods that underpin the scoping of user-identified online information needs in palliative care have remained under-explored. This paper describes the benefits and challenges of a collaborative approach involving users and experts that informed the first stage of the development of a palliative care website 1.

MethodThe action research-inspired methodology included a panel assessment of an existing palliative care website based in Victoria, Australia; a pre-development survey n = 197 scoping potential audiences and palliative care information needs; working parties conducting a needs analysis about necessary information content for a redeveloped website targeting health professionals and caregivers-patients; an iterative evaluation process involving users and experts; as well as a final evaluation survey n = 166.

ResultsInvolving users in the identification of content and links for a palliative care website is time-consuming and requires initial resources, strong networking skills and commitment. However, user participation provided crucial information that led to the widened the scope of the website audience and guided the development and testing of the website. The needs analysis underpinning the project suggests that palliative care peak bodies need to address three distinct audiences clinicians, allied health professionals as well as patients and their caregivers.

ConclusionWeb developers should pay close attention to the content, language, and accessibility needs of these groups. Given the substantial cost associated with the maintenance of authoritative health information sites, the paper proposes a more collaborative development in which users can be engaged in the definition of content to ensure relevance and responsiveness, and to eliminate unnecessary detail. Access to volunteer networks forms an integral part of such an approach.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1472-6947-7-26 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Annette F Street - Kathleen Swift - Merilyn Annells - Roger Woodruff - Terry Gliddon - Anne Oakley - Goetz Ottman


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