Crowdsourcing and the accuracy of online information regarding weight gain in pregnancy: A descriptive study

Tammy Chang, Bianca A. Verma, Trevor Shull, Michelle H. Moniz, Lauren Kohatsu, Melissa A. Plegue, Kevyn Collins-Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Background: Excess weight gain affects nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States and is a strong risk factor for adverse maternal and fetal outcomes, including long-term obesity. The Internet is a prominent source of information during pregnancy; however, the accuracy of this online information is unknown. Objective: To identify, characterize, and assess the accuracy of frequently accessed webpages containing information about weight gain during pregnancy. Methods: A descriptive study was used to identify and search frequently used phrases related to weight gain during pregnancy on the Google search engine. The first 10 webpages of each query were characterized by type and then assessed for accuracy and completeness, as compared to Institute of Medicine guidelines, using crowdsourcing. Results: A total of 114 queries were searched, yielding 305 unique webpages. Of these webpages, 181 (59.3%) included information regarding weight gain during pregnancy. Out of 181 webpages, 62 (34.3%) contained no specific recommendations, 48 (26.5%) contained accurate but incomplete recommendations, 41 (22.7%) contained complete and accurate recommendations, and 22 (12.2%) were inaccurate. Webpages were most commonly from for-profit websites (112/181, 61.9%), followed by government (19/181, 10.5%), medical organizations or associations (13/181, 7.2%), and news sites (12/181, 6.6%). The largest proportion of for-profit sites contained no specific recommendations (44/112, 39.3%). Among pages that provided inaccurate information (22/181, 12.2%), 68% (15/22) were from for-profit sites. Conclusions: For-profit websites dominate the online space with regard to weight gain during pregnancy and largely contain incomplete, inaccurate, or no specific recommendations. This represents a significant information gap regarding an important risk factor for obesity among mothers and infants. Our findings suggest that greater clinical and public health efforts to disseminate accurate information regarding healthy weight gain during pregnancy may help prevent significant morbidity and may support healthier pregnancies among at-risk women and children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere81
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Fingerprint

Crowdsourcing
Weight Gain
Pregnancy
Obesity
Search Engine
Institute of Medicine (U.S.)
Internet
Public Health
Morbidity

Keywords

  • Crowdsourcing
  • Internet
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

Cite this

Crowdsourcing and the accuracy of online information regarding weight gain in pregnancy : A descriptive study. / Chang, Tammy; Verma, Bianca A.; Shull, Trevor; Moniz, Michelle H.; Kohatsu, Lauren; Plegue, Melissa A.; Collins-Thompson, Kevyn.

In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 18, No. 4, e81, 01.04.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chang, Tammy; Verma, Bianca A.; Shull, Trevor; Moniz, Michelle H.; Kohatsu, Lauren; Plegue, Melissa A.; Collins-Thompson, Kevyn / Crowdsourcing and the accuracy of online information regarding weight gain in pregnancy : A descriptive study.

In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 18, No. 4, e81, 01.04.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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