C33. Rice, R.E., Peterson, M. & Christine, R. (2001). A comparative features analysis of publicly accessible commercial and government health database web sites.  In R.E. Rice & J.E. Katz (Eds.), The Internet and health communication: Expectations and experiences (pp. 213-232). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

The goal of this study was to compare the features of a set of commercial health database sites to those of a set of government health database sites.  Given the different kinds of cultural imperatives, structural incentives and constraints, audiences, motivations, purposes, and criteria used by commercial versus government health, we might expect some differences in the kinds of services and features used by these two types sources.

    Tension between Cultural Imperatives and Structural Incentives and Constraints
    Likely Features in Commercial and Government Health Database Sites
The final typology included 7 general coding categories, 74 specific features, and associated operationalizations.  The major categories that emerged from the prior typologies and our own analysis included: (1) Non-interactive substantive content (Scientific/Medical/Academic; Educational/Journalistic/PR/Publicity; Other Resources; and Website-Specific Columns), (2) E-Commerce, (3) Multimedia Content, (4) Navigation/Assistance, (5) Search Methods, (6) Interactivity (among Users; with the Website), and (7) Policy.  Features included in the initial typology but not occurring in these sites include: E-Commerce: auctions (online bidding for medical products), and online consultations for a fee;  Interactive with Website: surveys (usually separate page, includes questions about personal information); and Policy: security/encryption (encrypted messages, transaction security from main page).
On average, commercial sites offered 22.5 of the 74 features compared to 14 by government sites.
    Trends and Implications

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