A reliability and readability analysis of silicosis-related Italian websites: implications for occupational health

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Guglielmo Dini
Nicola Luigi Bragazzi
Beatrice D'Amico
Alfredo Montecucco
Stanley C. Igwe
Francesco Brigo
Alessandra Toletone
Paolo Durando


Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct standards, Internet, readability analysis, reliability analysis, silicosis, Occupational Health Promotion


Background: Silicosis represents a “classical” occupational disease characterized by a renewed interest. New risk factors are emerging, such as sandblasting in the jeans industry or hydrofracking, leading to clusters of acute or massive cases. Objectives: Given that the Internet could represent a worker education and empowerment tool, and considering the increase in popularity of silicosis-related information, we aimed at systematically analyzing the reliability and readability of online silicosis-relevant information. Methods: The search term “silicosi” was used to query 5 top search engines. The first 3 pages of results were screened using two validated readability tools: namely, the Gulpease and the ReadIt DyLanLab grade level scores. Results: Seventy sites were analyzed. The Gulpease score differed among the types of websites: academic websites differed from institutional websites, as well as encyclopedia/dictionary pages from institutional sites. The Lexical Model – ReadIt DyLanLab grade level differed among the types of websites. Encyclopedia/dictionary pages differed from academic, commercial, health-related, institutional and news sites. Approximately, half of the websites were intended/designed for workers. Only the Global Model – Read-It DyLanLab grade level differed according to the intended/designed target. Only 1.4% of websites adhered to Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct. Conclusions: Our findings may have important practical implications for occupational physicians and health agencies/authorities. They should make efforts in strengthening their online presence, and producing appropriate material. This could lead to positive outcomes in term of occupational health promotion, potentially enabling workers to increase and to improve their work-related health and its determinants. 


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