Background. Dental Internet portals can offer dental practitioners "one-stop shopping" for many information needs. To date, no studies have described and evaluated dental portals' services and content. Methods. The authors evaluated five dental portals from Jan. 22, 2001, to April 5, 2001, using 90 evaluation criteria in seven categories: general, services, miscellaneous, navigation and usability, site currency, site performance and responsiveness, and site integrity. Groups of three to four dental students rated each portal. The authors rated certain criteria using commercial monitoring and analysis services. Results. The portals evaluated in this study provided a wide range of services such as product purchasing, online continuing education, practice management services, news, dental practice Web pages and event calendars. Portals differed in many characteristics, such as the number of services, product pricing, discussion forum activity, navigability, reaction time in response to questions and site responsiveness. Conclusions. The implementation and usefulness of each portal's services varied. No portal can fit all needs best, and many portals change rapidly owing to the volatility of the Internet industry. Dentists should be familiar with portals' services and alternatives for using them. Practice Implications. Portals can provide useful services to dental practitioners. Practitioners, however, should evaluate portals carefully to ensure that their needs are met optimally.
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