An evaluation of web sites recommended by UK NHS consultants to patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis at the first point of diagnosis

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Abstract

Study Design. An Internet-based evaluation of Web sites using a
validated assessment tool.
Objective. To evaluate the quality of information on scoliosis Web
sites recommended by UK NHS consultants.
Summary of Background Data. One of the most common
sources of inquiry on the Web is for the purposes of health-related
information. The number of Web sites in the field of scoliosis has
increased, yet the quality of information is reported to continue
to be of poor quality. The 2 previous studies in this area identified
Web sites for evaluation through the use of a single search term,
“scoliosis,” on the 5 most popular search engines.
Methods. Seven Web sites were identified for inclusion in this
study from the results of a survey of UK NHS consultants. These
were independently evaluated by 3 reviewers using a validated
information assessment tool, the DISCERN instrument. DISCERN
scores were analyzed for correlation between reviewers. Web
sites were also analyzed for the presence or absence of the quality
assurance certification, Health On the Net code.
Results. Significant correlations between the DISCERN scores were
found for reviewers 1 and 2 ( τ = 0.878, P = 0.006) and reviewers
2 and 3 ( τ = 0.732, P = 0.029). The highest mean cumulative score
for all items achieved by any of the Web sites evaluated was 49
(maximum = 80, minimum = 15). Only one Web site was found to
display the Health On the Net code.
Conclusion. Healthcare professionals should be aware of the
content of Web sites that they recommend to patients. Web sites
should be designed so the content suits patient needs. Web sites
should be maintained such that content is up to date, evidence
based, impartial, and written in plain language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1590-1594
JournalSpine
Volume38
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

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