The use of quality benchmarking in assessing web resources for the dermatology virtual branch library of the National electronic Library for Health (NeLH)

M N Kamel Boulos, A V Roudsari, C Gordon, J A Muir Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: In 1998, the U.K. National Health Service Information for Health Strategy proposed the implementation of a National electronic Library for Health to provide clinicians, healthcare managers and planners, patients and the public with easy, round the clock access to high quality, up-to-date electronic information on health and healthcare. The Virtual Branch Libraries are among the most important components of the National electronic Library for Health. They aim at creating online knowledge based communities, each concerned with some specific clinical and other health-related topics.

OBJECTIVES: This study is about the envisaged Dermatology Virtual Branch Libraries of the National electronic Library for Health. It aims at selecting suitable dermatology Web resources for inclusion in the forthcoming Virtual Branch Libraries after establishing preliminary quality benchmarking rules for this task. Psoriasis, being a common dermatological condition, has been chosen as a starting point.

METHODS: Because quality is a principal concern of the National electronic Library for Health, the study includes a review of the major quality benchmarking systems available today for assessing health-related Web sites. The methodology of developing a quality benchmarking system has been also reviewed. Aided by metasearch Web tools, candidate resources were hand-selected in light of the reviewed benchmarking systems and specific criteria set by the authors.

RESULTS: Over 90 professional and patient-oriented Web resources on psoriasis and dermatology in general are suggested for inclusion in the forthcoming Dermatology Virtual Branch Libraries. The idea of an all-in knowledge-hallmarking instrument for the National electronic Library for Health is also proposed based on the reviewed quality benchmarking systems.

CONCLUSIONS: Skilled, methodical, organized human reviewing, selection and filtering based on well-defined quality appraisal criteria seems likely to be the key ingredient in the envisaged National electronic Library for Health service. Furthermore, by promoting the application of agreed quality guidelines and codes of ethics by all health information providers and not just within the National electronic Library for Health, the overall quality of the Web will improve with time and the Web will ultimately become a reliable and integral part of the care space.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2001



  • Dermatology
  • Great Britain
  • Health Resources
  • Internet
  • Library Services
  • National Health Programs
  • Quality Control
  • Quality of Health Care

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