Infant feeding websites and apps: A systematic assessment of quality and content

Author: 
Sarah Taki, Karen Campbell, Catherine Russell, Roslaind Elliott, Rachel Laws, Elizabeth Denney-Wilso
Publication type: 
Journal article
Program: 
Stream 1 Families with young children
Year: 
2015

Interactive Journal of Medical Research 4(3):e18.

ABSTRACT

Aims and rationale: The internet and smartphone applications (apps) have become a popular resource to guide parents in their children’s feeding and nutrition. Given the diverse range of websites and apps on infant feeding the quality of information in these resources should be assessed to identify whether consumers have access to credible and reliable information. This systematic analysis provides perspectives on the information available about infant feeding on websites and smartphone applications.

Methods: A systematic analysis was conducted to assess the quality, comprehensibility, suitability and readability of websites apps and on infant feeding using a developed tool. Google and Bing were used to search for websites from Australia, while app store for iOS® and Google Play® for Android were used to search for apps. Specified key words including ‘baby feeding’, ‘breast feeding’, ‘formula feeding’ and ‘introducing solids’ were used to assess websites and apps addressing feeding advice. Criteria for assessing the accuracy of the content were developed using the Australian Infant Feeding Guidelines.

Findings: A total of 600 websites and 2884 apps were screened, 44 websites and 46 apps met the selection criteria and were analysed. Most of the websites (N = 26) and apps (N = 43) were non-commercial, some websites (N = 10) and 1 app were commercial and there were 8 government websites while two apps had university endorsement. The majority of the websites and apps were rated ‘poor’ quality. There were two websites which had 100% coverage of information compared to those rated as fair or poor which had low coverage. Two-thirds of the websites (65%) and almost half of the apps (47%) had a readability level above an education level grade 8.

Potential uses of this research: The findings of this unique analysis highlights the potential for website and app developers to merge user requirements with evidence-based content to ensure that information on infant feeding is high quality. There are currently no apps that address a variety of infant feeding topics available to consumers. To keep up with the rapid turnover of the evolving technology, health professionals need to consider developing an app that will provide consumers with a credible and reliable source of information about infant feeding, by doing so using quality assessment tools and evidence based content.

Citation: Taki S, Campbell KJ, Russell CG, Elliot R, Laws R, Denney-Wilson E. Infant feeding websites and apps: A systematic assessment of quality and content. Interactive Journal of Medical Research 2015; 4(3): e18.
 
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