A Critical Analysis of the Information Available Online for Ménière’s Disease

Dennis I. Bojrab, Christian Fritz, Seilesh Babu, Kenny F. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Patients increasingly rely on online resources for medical information; however, the Internet is unregulated and prone to misinformation. This study analyzes the reliability, quality, and readability of websites for Ménière’s disease. Study Design: A Google search was performed using keywords Ménière’s disease. The first 5 pages (50 results) were reviewed. Websites were sorted into 5 categories: academic institutions, government agencies, professional organizations, medical information websites, and miscellaneous. The reliability, quality, and readability of each website were evaluated using the DISCERN instrument and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL). DISCERN assesses reliability and quality by scoring 15 questions on a scale from 1 (low) to 3 (high). The reliability score emphasizes clear objectives and sources, as well as lack of bias, whereas the quality score emphasizes information on treatment options. The FKGL of each website was calculated using a formula to determine the equivalent US grade reading level. Setting: Ambulatory. Subjects: None. Results: Forty-two websites were analyzed. Academic institutions were the most common (n = 13, 31%) but scored the lowest using DISCERN at 1.75 ± 0.13. Medical information websites scored highest at 2.24 ± 0.09 (P =.024 compared to academic institutions). The average FKGL of all websites was 10.12 ± 0.57 with medical information websites being the easiest to read at 8.84 ± 0.83. Only 5 (13%) of websites scored below the eighth-grade reading level. Conclusions: Most top online search results for Ménière’s disease are deficient in quality and readability. Medical information websites are generally the most reliable and easy to read.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-336
Number of pages8
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Volume162
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Keywords

  • DISCERN index
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
  • Ménière’s disease
  • online patient education
  • readability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology

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