Jason I Halpern

Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

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Publications (3)6.13 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The World Wide Web is one of the most common methods used by parents to find information on autism spectrum disorders and most consumers find information through search engines such as Google or Bing. However, little is known about how the search engines operate or the consistency of the results that are returned over time. This study presents the results of analyses of searches from 2009, 2010, and 2011 for information on autism. We found that over time, consumers are likely to have different search experiences yielding different results, and we urge consumers to use caution when using the World Wide Web to obtain information on autism.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 02/2012; 42(6):1275-9. · 3.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The World Wide Web is a common method for obtaining information on autism spectrum disorders, however, there are no guidelines for finding websites with high quality. We conducted two studies examining the characteristics and/or quality of autism websites in 2009 and 2010. We found websites with a .gov top-level domain had a statistically significant association with high quality websites and websites offering a product or service and websites promoting a non-evidence-based practice had a statistically significant association with poor quality websites. Based on our work we concluded that online information should not replace the information consumers obtain from professionals. Further implications for practice, overview of study limitations and future directions are provided.
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 08/2011; 42(6):1263-74. · 3.06 Impact Factor
  • B. Reichow, J. Halpern, F. R. Volkmar
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The number of websites with information on autism is growing. In October of 2009, entering the term “autism” in a Google search resulted in 16,100,000 results. In comparison, conducting a similar search in 1999 would yield 104,950 (Charman, 1999). Research also suggests an increasing number of consumers are obtaining health related information from the internet. Although there are a vast number of autism related websites, little research has been conducted regarding quality of their content, or how the information is used. Objectives: The first objective was to develop a tool, the Website Characterization and Quality Indicator Assessment, to accurately assess the presence of quality indicators and key characteristics of websites on autism. The second objective was to use the tool to assess and analyze the presence of the quality indicators on the most popular autism websites. Methods: The sample of interest for this study was the top 100 websites returned when the word “autism” was entered into the search engines of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. To conduct the searches, the term “autism” was entered into the search box on each site’s homepage and the first 100 websites (not including sponsored links) were entered into a database. There was much overlap between search engines, and website often appeared on one, two, or all three search engine results. Because of the overlap within and between search engine queries, a master list was created with distinct entries for each website domain, which reduced the final sample from 300 websites to 164 distinct website results. The Website Characterization and Quality Indicator Assessment tool, which contains eight quality indicators (author’s identity, references, not offering a commercial product or service, not promoting a miracle cure, updated within the last 6 months, personal information did not have to be provided, a contact information or a feedback mechanism was provided, and the site contained a medically oriented disclaimer) was used to determine the presence or absence of quality indicators on the 164 autism websites. Results: On average, the 164 websites analyzed for this study suggested autism related websites contained less than 6 of 8 quality indicators. Nearly 1 in 5 websites offered a product or service for purchase, and/or promoted a miracle cure. These websites were also, on average, some of the least likely websites to contain the quality indicators. Conclusions: These findings suggest consumers must be cautious when obtaining information regarding autism from the internet. Specifically, the finding that websites offering a product or service for purchase and/or promoting a miracle cure contained, on average, a lower proportion of total quality indicators suggest that individuals encountering websites containing these aspects must exercise extra cautions. Additionally, the results of this study do not provide data that can be used to reach conclusions about the quality of the information on autism websites. Further research addressing this issue is needed.
    International Meeting for Autism Research 2010; 05/2010