Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Objectives. We examined the content and usability of the Web sites of agencies serving women victims of violence.

Methods. We entered the names of a systematic 10% sample of 3774 agencies listed in 2 national directories into a search engine. We took (in April 2012) and analyzed screenshots of the 261 resulting home pages and the readability of 193 home and first-level pages.

Results. Victims (94%) and donors (68%) were the primary intended audiences. About one half used social media and one third provided cues to action. Almost all (96.4%) of the Web pages were rated “fairly difficult” to “very confusing” to read, and 81.4% required more than a ninth-grade education to understand.

Conclusions. The service and marketing functions were met fairly well by the agency home pages, but usability (particularly readability and offer of a mobile version) and efforts to increase user safety could be improved. Internet technologies are an essential platform for public health. They are particularly useful for reaching people with stigmatized health conditions because of the anonymity allowed. The one third of agencies that lack a Web site will not reach the substantial portion of the population that uses the Internet to find health information and other resources.


Sorenson, S. B., Shi, R., Zhang, J., & Xue, J. (2014). Self-presentation on the web: Agencies serving abused and assaulted women. American Journal of Public Health, 104(4), 702-707. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301629



Date Posted: 05 August 2014

This document has been peer reviewed.