Background: The Internet has become the most popular source of reference on health-related issues. However, little has been invested in studies that use it as a tool to evaluate health-related cultural events as cancer prevention campaigns.
Aims: To correlate audience patterns on the web pages of a Brazilian Ministry of Health (MOH) cancer institute (http://www.inca.gov.br) with government campaigns in this area.
Methods: 24 consecutive months of observational study of a cancer site sponsored by the MOH, using a commercial software package to analyse electronic records (log files) of all visitors’ movements. Variables observed included number of visits, time spent on each visit and the monthly return rate at six selected pages (three relating to cancer as a disease and three to prevention measures).
Results: The audience was observed to grow gradually over the 2 years, with peaks in the periods around the campaigns. The topics of most interest were concentrated in pages on cancer diagnostic and treatment technology. Pages on preventive measures were less visited during the campaigns, and their audience varied little over the 24 months.
Conclusion: A historical analysis of log files for reference sites revealed interesting patterns that may be helpful for planning and evaluating institutional campaigns. Practical implications: in view of the results of this study, the website was improved to offer better information on preferred topics and to include more links with prevention-related pages. Log file assessment after health campaigns could provide useful input to planning.
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Competing interests: None.