Limited Engaging and Interactive Online Health Information for Adolescents: A Systematic Review of Australian Websites

Stella Ruan, Rebecca Raeside, Anna Singleton, Julie Redfern, Stephanie R Partridge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Adolescents need access to interactive and high-quality online health information about strategies to reduce their risk for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). This study aimed to evaluate the quality, readability and interactivity of webpages with adolescent-specific information on NCD risk factors. Included web pages were: (i) Australian-based; (ii) authored by government bodies or public health organizations; (iii) contained information relevant to NCD risk factors; and (iv) contained adolescent-specific information. In total, 69 web pages were included for evaluation (smoking, n = 6; nutrition, n = 22; alcohol, n = 15; physical activity n = 11; mental health, n = 6; health and obesity, n = 9). Content quality score (modified DISCERN tool) ±standard deviation ranged from fair (49.6 ± 13.6 for nutrition) to good quality (58.4 ± 11.0 for alcohol). Mean readability score (Flesch-Kincaid tool) found most webpages were difficult to read (49.6 ± 14.9, University student level). Adolescent-directed websites were written in plain English (62 ± 7.5, understood by 13-15-year-olds). Mean interactivity score indicated web pages were fairly interactive (13 ± 2.0). The study found very few webpages were written specifically for adolescents and no webpages were of excellent quality, highly interactive and written in plain English. Given the plethora of online health information from non-credible sources, we recommend public health organizations invest in co-designing excellent-quality and interactive online health information with adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-773
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


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