Privacy and health in the information age: A content analysis of health web site privacy policy statements

Stephen A. Rains, Leslie A. Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article reports a content analysis of the privacy policy statements (PPSs) from 97 general reference health Web sites that was conducted to examine the ways in which visitors' privacy is constructed by health organizations. PPSs are formal documents created by the Web site owner to describe how information regarding site visitors and their behavior is collected and used. The results show that over 80% of the PPSs in the sample indicated automatically collecting or requesting that visitors voluntarily provide information about themselves, and only 3% met all five of the Federal Trade Commission's Fair Information Practices guidelines. Additionally, the results suggest that the manner in which PPSs are framed and the use of justifications for collecting information are tropes used by health organizations to foster a secondary exchange of visitors' personal information for access to Web site content.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-446
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Communication
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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