PURPOSE:Many patients and their parents utilize the Internet for health-related information, but quality is largely uncontrolled and unregulated.
The Health on the Net Foundation Code (HONcode) and DISCERN Plus were used to evaluate the pediatric urological search terms 'circumcision,' 'vesicoureteral reflux' and 'posterior urethral valves'.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A google.com search was performed to identify the top 20 websites for each term. The HONcode toolbar was utilized to determine whether each website was HONcode accredited and report the overall frequency of accreditation for each term. The DISCERN Plus instrument was used to score each website in accordance with the DISCERN Handbook. High and low scoring criteria were then compared.
RESULTS: A total of 60 websites were identified. For the search terms 'circumcision', 'posterior urethral valves' and 'vesicoureteral reflux', 25-30% of the websites were HONcode certified. Out of the maximum score of 80, the average DISCERN Plus score was 60 (SD = 12, range 38-78), 40 (SD = 12, range 22-69) and 45 (SD = 19, range 16-78), respectively. The lowest scoring DISCERN criteria included: 'Does it describe how the treatment choices affect overall quality of life?', 'Does it describe the risks of each treatment?' and 'Does it provide details of additional sources of support and information?' (1.35, 1.83 and 1.95 out of 5, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate the poor quality of information that patients and their parents may use in decision-making and treatment choices. The two lowest scoring DISCERN Plus criteria involved education on quality of life issues and risks of treatment. Physicians should know how to best use these tools to help guide patients and their parents to websites with valid information.
Fast AM, Deibert CM, Hruby GW, Glassberg KI. Are you the author?
Department of Urology, Columbia University Medical Center, NY, USA.
Reference: J Pediatr Urol. 2012 Jan 24. Epub ahead of print.