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A Moderating Role of Channel Responsiveness in the Effects of Online Information Source
Unformatted Document Text:  2 2000, 2002). On the other hand, there is no agreed-upon mechanism to ensure the quality of information on the Internet. The lack of regulation on the content and content providers of online health information allows anyone including non-professionals, who are not trained in medicine or health education, to provide health information on the Internet. An estimate by the Federal Trade Commission indicates, “doctors reviewed only about half of the content on health and medical Web sites” (Pew Research Center, 2000). Furthermore, when a Web site is sponsored by a commercial organization, the primary purpose of information provision is likely to sell or promote particular products or types of treatment (Eysenbach & Diepgen, 2001; Griffiths, et al., 2002). Therefore, individuals are potentially exposed to “inaccurate, incomplete, or biased” health information on the Internet (Griffiths, et al., 2002, p.205; Eastin 2001), which can have especially detrimental effects on those with life-threatening conditions (Eysenbach & Diepgen, 2001; Flanagin & Metzger, 2000b). To help individuals assess the quality of health information on the Internet, a few independent organizations have created codes of conduct and evaluative criteria, including Health on the Net (HON) foundation’s HON Code of Conduct ( http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Conduct.html ) and MedCERTAIN’s MedPICS Certification and Rating of Trustworthy Health Information on the Net ( http://www.medcertain.org ). These organizations encourage developers of health Web sites to indicate authorship or source of information so to “signal” the quality of information to individuals. Although it may appear intuitive that individuals perceive information from an identified source as more credible, there is little empirical evidence in an online environment. Another issue is if and how a unique channel characteristic of the Internet influences individuals’ response to the source of online information. While the Internet provides a mode of mediated communication, its interactive nature brings the communication closer to interpersonal communication. Therefore, interactivity of the Internet may have distinctive effects on individuals’ perception of and response to the source of online information.

Authors: Kim, Hyojin. and Stephens, Keri.
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2000, 2002). On the other hand, there is no agreed-upon mechanism to ensure the quality of
information on the Internet. The lack of regulation on the content and content providers of
online health information allows anyone including non-professionals, who are not trained in
medicine or health education, to provide health information on the Internet. An estimate by the
Federal Trade Commission indicates, “doctors reviewed only about half of the content on health
and medical Web sites” (Pew Research Center, 2000). Furthermore, when a Web site is
sponsored by a commercial organization, the primary purpose of information provision is likely
to sell or promote particular products or types of treatment (Eysenbach & Diepgen, 2001;
Griffiths, et al., 2002). Therefore, individuals are potentially exposed to “inaccurate, incomplete,
or biased” health information on the Internet (Griffiths, et al., 2002, p.205; Eastin 2001), which
can have especially detrimental effects on those with life-threatening conditions (Eysenbach &
Diepgen, 2001; Flanagin & Metzger, 2000b).
To help individuals assess the quality of health information on the Internet, a few
independent organizations have created codes of conduct and evaluative criteria, including
Health on the Net (HON) foundation’s HON Code of Conduct
(
http://www.hon.ch/HONcode/Conduct.html
) and MedCERTAIN’s MedPICS Certification and
Rating of Trustworthy Health Information on the Net (
http://www.medcertain.org
). These
organizations encourage developers of health Web sites to indicate authorship or source of
information so to “signal” the quality of information to individuals. Although it may appear
intuitive that individuals perceive information from an identified source as more credible, there is
little empirical evidence in an online environment. Another issue is if and how a unique channel
characteristic of the Internet influences individuals’ response to the source of online information.
While the Internet provides a mode of mediated communication, its interactive nature brings the
communication closer to interpersonal communication. Therefore, interactivity of the Internet
may have distinctive effects on individuals’ perception of and response to the source of online
information.


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