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April, 2014
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Web Usage Data as a Means of Evaluating Public Health Messaging and Outreach

Background
The Internet is increasingly utilized by researchers, health care providers, and the public to seek medical information. The Internet also provides a powerful tool for public health messaging. Understanding the needs of the intended audience and how they use websites is critical for website developers to provide better services to the intended users.

Objective:
The aim of the study was to examine the utilization of the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) website at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We evaluated (1) CFS website utilization, (2) outcomes of a CDC CFS public awareness campaign, and (3) user behavior related to public awareness campaign materials and CFS continuing medical education courses.

Methods:
To describe and evaluate Web utilization, we collected Web usage data over an 18-month period and extracted page views, visits, referring domains, and geographic locations. We used page views as the primary measure for the CFS awareness outreach effort. We utilized market basket analysis and Markov chain model techniques to describe user behavior related to utilization of campaign materials and continuing medical education courses.

Results:
The CDC CFS website received 3,647,736 views from more than 50 countries over the 18-month period and was the 33rd most popular CDC website. States with formal CFS programs had higher visiting density, such as Washington, DC; Georgia; and New Jersey. Most visits (71%) were from Web search engines, with 16% from non-search-engine sites and 12% from visitors who had bookmarked the site. The public awareness campaign was associated with a sharp increase and subsequent quick drop in Web traffic. Following the campaign, user interest shifted from information targeting consumer basic knowledge to information for health care professionals. The market basket analysis showed that visitors preferred the 60-second radio clip public service announcement over the 30-second one. Markov chain model results revealed that most visitors took the online continuing education courses in sequential order and were less likely to drop out after they reached the Introduction pages of the courses.

Conclusions:
The utilization of the CFS website reflects a high level of interest in the illness by visitors to the site. The high utilization shows the website to be an important online resource for people seeking basic information about CFS and for those looking for professional health care and research information. Public health programs should consider analytic methods to further public health by understanding the characteristics of those seeking information and by evaluating the outcomes of public health campaigns. The website was an effective means to provide health information about CFS and serves as an important public health tool for community outreach.

Full article
Tian, Hao; Brimmer, Dana J.; Lin, Jin-Mann S.; Tumpey, Abbigail J.; Reeves, William C., J Med Internet Res, 11(4), e52, DOI: 10.2196/jmir.1278

More bibliographic information.

22 December 2009 | Categories: Science | Country: United States | Tag(s): Education, Health Information, Internet, Public Health
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9 Comments

  1. Sheffield says:

    “The CDC CFS website received 3,647,736 views from more than 50 countries over the 18-month period and was the 33rd most popular CDC website”…”The utilization of the CFS website reflects a high level of interest in the illness by visitors to the site. The high utilization shows the website to be an important online resource for people seeking basic information about CFS and for those looking for professional health care and research information”

    ARE THESE PEOPLE KIDDING? The CDC/CFS website is dreadful, worthless, and has not been updated in four years. The website has NO useful information. The numbers of views show rather powerfully that there is a huge number of CFIDS sick people looking for information. Sadly, the CDC/CFS website IS NOT where they find any information. Instead, they must look elsewhere to other CFIDS websites, blogs and medical sites. The CDC/CFS website is a disgrace. William Reeves is a disgrace. Remove all CFIDS research from the CDC now.

  2. Justin Reilly says:

    I agree with Sheffield above. This is an elementary school report typical of Reeves shop. Ironic that Reeves questions the worth of the WPI/NCI/Cleveland clinic’s XMRV study done by some of the top retrovirologists in the world, when he puts out such typical garbage. The hits to the site reflect the severity and widespread nature of ME (CFIDS) not the quality of the site, which is a POS, although much improved from several years ago when it was all lies; now I’d say it’s about half and half.

  3. Richard Levy says:

    “The hits to the site reflect the severity and widespread nature of ME (CFIDS) not the quality of the site, which is a POS, although much improved from several years ago when it was all lies; now I’d say it’s about half and half.”

    I agree with the above statement especially the part that the “hits” are reflective of the number of sick people out there desperatly looking for any information on CFIDS. The CDC is the very last place they should be looking at and instead, should be hitting the websites, blogs, and medical journal sites for real and valid information on CFIDS.

    Reeves is trying to do anything to keep his job and save his butt. Congress has caught on that there is a serious situation with the CDC/CFS shop and Reeves KNOWS IT. So, he plays these stupid little games that are so transparent that even an uninformed person can see through it.

    It really is time for the CDC to do something about the CFS program and rid themselves of the PR disaster Reeves and his associates, contractors and all those that came before him have created for the CDC because of gross incompetence, greed, and basic stupidity.

    IF you need good information on CFIDS/ME google and find the many other sites that provide real and valid research. The CDC/CFS site only offers up pscyhogarbage and insults the sick in every way possible. So, do NOT bother with the CDC website specifically to CFIDS and generally. Something is terribly wrong with the CDC as a whole and I expect that a massive scandal will be taking the CDC down soon. Others believe this as well.

  4. Oregano says:

    I wonder how much money was spent on this piece of propaganda – a report patting themselves on the back and continuing to use taxpayers money to pretend they are doing something about Chronic Fatigue SYNDROME. If the CDC’s CFS webpage had so many hits, it’s because the millions of people who have this disabling disease will look anywhere for information and/or treatment. The CDC’s CFS webpage offers NEITHER. Whenever real scientists find something pertinent to CFS, Bill Reeves and his gang of good ole boys tries to squelch the research or undercut the researchers who are really looking for the cause and treatment. Reeves is the Torquemada of CFS research. Any scientist who doesn’t subscribe to his religion of psychobabble is either ignored, disdained or excoriated. He must have millions of dollars invested in the antidepressant industry and/or the disability insurance industry. He certainly isn’t interested in the health and wellbeing of people who have CFS.

  5. Petra says:

    This self-congratulatory “study” is absurd – the CDC CFS web site is not just worthless, it contains dangerous misinformation. By the standards used here (number of site visitors) Wikipedia could just as easily call itself the best source of information on the web.

  6. Kathryn Stephens says:

    What one does not look for, one does not find. The CDC’s track record of ignorance is astounding. If my dr(s) even mention ‘the CDC says this, or that”, I change doctors immediately.

    When Reeves says some patients have other illnesses, including major depression, instead of CFS/ME, he is forgetting (or purposefully misleading) that ANYONE can get CFS/ME.

    If one has cancer, they can get CFS/ME. If one has Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, MS, GERD, or ANY other illness or recognized disease, they can also get CFS/ME.

    The guidelines for diagnosing CFS/ME leave out everything that will actually identify it: VIRUSES, VIRUSES, VIRUSES, including EBV, HHV6a and HHV8, CMV, and now, yes, XMRV.

    The untold suffering the CDC’s CFS branch has done borders on criminal behavior, and someday this will be proven, and those responsible held accountable. Until then, patients will rely on real, dedicated scientists who know the truth about CFS/ME.

    The CDC’s CFS program is worthless for the patients.

  7. John M. says:

    As a CFS patient, I would like to add my voice on what a piece of crap the CDC CFS website is as well as the CDC’s CFS program itself. CDC has continually ignored the biomedical research literature and approached CFS to be nothing more than psychoneurosis, while at the same time an infectious retrovirus has been spreading amongst the population making millions of people terribly ill and contaminating the nation’s(and possibly the world’s) blood supplies.

    Examples of CDC’s approach to CFS-

    -’Dear Sirs, I am SICK…” -Letter written by CDC employee mocking CFS patients and which hung on a message board in CDC for several years until it had to be taken down due to unwanted attention by a journalist, circa 1986-
    http://oslersweb.com/files/Scan0001.pdf

    -Primetime Live quoted William Reeves, then and current head of CDC’s CFS program, as saying that clusters of CFS were nothing more than ‘hysteria’ and that no immune abnormalities existed in CFS patients, circa 1996-
    http://www.me-cvs.nl/index.php?pageid=3474&printlink=true&highlight=burnout

    -William Reeves, still head of CDC’s CFS program, appears on Georgia Public TV circa 2007-
    Dr. Reeves states that CDC is looking at whether CFS is due to ‘different stress patterns [in] men and women’, possibly due to ‘women or men’s roles and how they’re functioning in their different parts of society’. Pure Victorian gender bias, still going strong at the Centers for Disease Control in 2010.

    And all this despite the call for new leadership at the CDC’s CFS program by 1)the Dept. of Health and Human Services Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Advisory Committee, 2)the largest CFS professional’s group in the world, the IACFS/ME, as well as 3)the nation’s largest patient charity, the CFIDS Association. The second largest CFS charity in the US, the NCF, told me that the only reason they didn’t call for new leadership at CDC/CFS program was that they didn’t think it would do any good.

    So way to go, CDC. All the article above says is that the public looks to CDC for health information, it doesn’t say jack about whether the information they are given is worth a tin ****.

  8. Bill Reeves says:

    See the webisite http://www.cdcchatter.net and the post on the loss of CDC’s Credibility by the US Public. News that Reeves UK accomplice, Simon Wessely (a UK Shrink) has had a 40 page document locked down for 83 years from the UK public is out there now. William Reeves and Simon Wessely and the other UK shrinks that have damned and damaged the UK public are in very tight collaboration to ensure that CFIDS/ME is viewed as a psychiatric disorder so that real reseaerch is not done – and has NOT been done by the CDC/CFS shop in 30 years. Congress has beaten on the CDC to get the CFS people to do their job but the CDC/CFS shop people just lie to Congress and go on their merry way of doing stupid studies that further damage the terribly sick.

    William Reeves KNOWS he is about to be “outed” soon. And the CDC will have no choice but to “retire” him since he has caused so many problems for the CDC and millions of very sick people. This so called “pat on the back” about that stupid CFS site is par for the course. Nothing of value, misleading information, insulting/demeaning to those with CFIDS.
    Reeves and his thieving contractors – ABT Associates and Emory University MIND-BODY Program need to be investigated and then dealt with by the law.

    What a horrible waste of taxpayer dollars by the CDC/CFS/William Reeves. And 30 years later, millions of sick are still sick and dying from the most commonly seen CFIDS-related cancers. Disregard anything from the CDC, CDC/CFS and William Reeves. The CDC/CFS website is garbage – pure and simple.

  9. jd webb says:

    I like what you have to say

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