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Assessment of the quality and variability of health information on chronic pain websites using the DISCERN instrument.

Kaicker J, Debono VB, Dang W, Buckley N, Thabane L - BMC Med (2010)

Bottom Line: The multivariable regressions demonstrated that website seals of approval (P = 0.015) and potential for commercial gain (P = 0.189) were contributing factors to higher DISCERN scores, while seals of approval (P = 0.168) and interactive multimedia (P = 0.244) contributed to lower grade level readability, as indicated by estimates of the beta coefficients.The overall quality of pain websites is moderate, with some shortcomings.Websites that scored high using the DISCERN questionnaire contained health related seals of approval and provided commercial solutions for pain related conditions while those with low readability levels offered interactive multimedia options and have been endorsed by health seals.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Anesthesia, Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, 2U1-1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8N 3Z5, Canada.

ABSTRACT

Background: The Internet is used increasingly by providers as a tool for disseminating pain-related health information and by patients as a resource about health conditions and treatment options. However, health information on the Internet remains unregulated and varies in quality, accuracy and readability. The objective of this study was to determine the quality of pain websites, and explain variability in quality and readability between pain websites.

Methods: Five key terms (pain, chronic pain, back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia) were entered into the Google, Yahoo and MSN search engines. Websites were assessed using the DISCERN instrument as a quality index. Grade level readability ratings were assessed using the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Algorithm. Univariate (using alpha = 0.20) and multivariable regression (using alpha = 0.05) analyses were used to explain the variability in DISCERN scores and grade level readability using potential for commercial gain, health related seals of approval, language(s) and multimedia features as independent variables.

Results: A total of 300 websites were assessed, 21 excluded in accordance with the exclusion criteria and 110 duplicate websites, leaving 161 unique sites. About 6.8% (11/161 websites) of the websites offered patients' commercial products for their pain condition, 36.0% (58/161 websites) had a health related seal of approval, 75.8% (122/161 websites) presented information in English only and 40.4% (65/161 websites) offered an interactive multimedia experience. In assessing the quality of the unique websites, of a maximum score of 80, the overall average DISCERN Score was 55.9 (13.6) and readability (grade level) of 10.9 (3.9). The multivariable regressions demonstrated that website seals of approval (P = 0.015) and potential for commercial gain (P = 0.189) were contributing factors to higher DISCERN scores, while seals of approval (P = 0.168) and interactive multimedia (P = 0.244) contributed to lower grade level readability, as indicated by estimates of the beta coefficients.

Conclusion: The overall quality of pain websites is moderate, with some shortcomings. Websites that scored high using the DISCERN questionnaire contained health related seals of approval and provided commercial solutions for pain related conditions while those with low readability levels offered interactive multimedia options and have been endorsed by health seals.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Consort diagram, websites included in study.
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Figure 1: Consort diagram, websites included in study.

Mentions: A total of 300 websites were reviewed in July 2009, 100 for each of the three search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN). A total of 271 out of 300 websites were eligible for examination after application of the exclusion criteria (Figure 1). Removal of 110 duplicate websites left a total of 161 unique sites. The Google search engine contributed 55.3% (89/161 websites) of the unique sites evaluated with 22.6% from each of the Yahoo and MSN engines (36/161 websites). When examining the number of websites classified under each of the characteristics evaluated it was found that 6.8% (11/161 websites) of the websites offered patients commercial products for their pain related condition (Potential for Commercial Gain) and 36.0% (58/161 websites) presented a health related seal of approval. Similarly, 75.8% (122/161) of the websites were presented information in English only and 40.4% (65/161 websites) offered an interactive multimedia experience to viewers (Table 1). The mean (SD) DISCERN value for Google was 58.2 (12.4), Yahoo 60.0 (11.5) and MSN 53.2 (14.1). When examining average grade level readability using the Flesch-Kincaid algorithm, scores were found to be 11.1 (4.1) for Google, 10.5 (4.0) for Yahoo and 11.2 (3.6) for MSN. Grade level readability is associated with grades 1 to 8 correlated to students in elementary school, grades 9 to 12 for those in secondary (high) school and grades above 12 being collegiate.


Assessment of the quality and variability of health information on chronic pain websites using the DISCERN instrument.

Kaicker J, Debono VB, Dang W, Buckley N, Thabane L - BMC Med (2010)

Consort diagram, websites included in study.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2967493&req=5

Figure 1: Consort diagram, websites included in study.
Mentions: A total of 300 websites were reviewed in July 2009, 100 for each of the three search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN). A total of 271 out of 300 websites were eligible for examination after application of the exclusion criteria (Figure 1). Removal of 110 duplicate websites left a total of 161 unique sites. The Google search engine contributed 55.3% (89/161 websites) of the unique sites evaluated with 22.6% from each of the Yahoo and MSN engines (36/161 websites). When examining the number of websites classified under each of the characteristics evaluated it was found that 6.8% (11/161 websites) of the websites offered patients commercial products for their pain related condition (Potential for Commercial Gain) and 36.0% (58/161 websites) presented a health related seal of approval. Similarly, 75.8% (122/161) of the websites were presented information in English only and 40.4% (65/161 websites) offered an interactive multimedia experience to viewers (Table 1). The mean (SD) DISCERN value for Google was 58.2 (12.4), Yahoo 60.0 (11.5) and MSN 53.2 (14.1). When examining average grade level readability using the Flesch-Kincaid algorithm, scores were found to be 11.1 (4.1) for Google, 10.5 (4.0) for Yahoo and 11.2 (3.6) for MSN. Grade level readability is associated with grades 1 to 8 correlated to students in elementary school, grades 9 to 12 for those in secondary (high) school and grades above 12 being collegiate.

Bottom Line: The multivariable regressions demonstrated that website seals of approval (P = 0.015) and potential for commercial gain (P = 0.189) were contributing factors to higher DISCERN scores, while seals of approval (P = 0.168) and interactive multimedia (P = 0.244) contributed to lower grade level readability, as indicated by estimates of the beta coefficients.The overall quality of pain websites is moderate, with some shortcomings.Websites that scored high using the DISCERN questionnaire contained health related seals of approval and provided commercial solutions for pain related conditions while those with low readability levels offered interactive multimedia options and have been endorsed by health seals.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Anesthesia, Michael G DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University, 2U1-1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8N 3Z5, Canada.

ABSTRACT

Background: The Internet is used increasingly by providers as a tool for disseminating pain-related health information and by patients as a resource about health conditions and treatment options. However, health information on the Internet remains unregulated and varies in quality, accuracy and readability. The objective of this study was to determine the quality of pain websites, and explain variability in quality and readability between pain websites.

Methods: Five key terms (pain, chronic pain, back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia) were entered into the Google, Yahoo and MSN search engines. Websites were assessed using the DISCERN instrument as a quality index. Grade level readability ratings were assessed using the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Algorithm. Univariate (using alpha = 0.20) and multivariable regression (using alpha = 0.05) analyses were used to explain the variability in DISCERN scores and grade level readability using potential for commercial gain, health related seals of approval, language(s) and multimedia features as independent variables.

Results: A total of 300 websites were assessed, 21 excluded in accordance with the exclusion criteria and 110 duplicate websites, leaving 161 unique sites. About 6.8% (11/161 websites) of the websites offered patients' commercial products for their pain condition, 36.0% (58/161 websites) had a health related seal of approval, 75.8% (122/161 websites) presented information in English only and 40.4% (65/161 websites) offered an interactive multimedia experience. In assessing the quality of the unique websites, of a maximum score of 80, the overall average DISCERN Score was 55.9 (13.6) and readability (grade level) of 10.9 (3.9). The multivariable regressions demonstrated that website seals of approval (P = 0.015) and potential for commercial gain (P = 0.189) were contributing factors to higher DISCERN scores, while seals of approval (P = 0.168) and interactive multimedia (P = 0.244) contributed to lower grade level readability, as indicated by estimates of the beta coefficients.

Conclusion: The overall quality of pain websites is moderate, with some shortcomings. Websites that scored high using the DISCERN questionnaire contained health related seals of approval and provided commercial solutions for pain related conditions while those with low readability levels offered interactive multimedia options and have been endorsed by health seals.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus