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Googling fibroids: A critical appraisal of information available on the internet

Hirsch, M; Wojtaszewska, A; Saridogan, E; Mavrelos, D; Barker, C; Duffy, JMN; (2020) Googling fibroids: A critical appraisal of information available on the internet. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology , 250 pp. 224-230. 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.04.004. Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: We aim to evaluate the accuracy, quality, and readability of online patient information concerning fibroids. STUDY DESIGN: We searched the most popular Internet search engine: Google.com. We developed a search strategy in consultation with patients with fibroids, to identify relevant websites. Two independent authors screened the search results. Websites were evaluated using validated instruments across three domains, including assessments of: [1] quality (DISCERN instrument; range 0-85); [2] readability (Flesch-Kincaid instrument; range 0-100); and [3] accuracy. Accuracy was assessed using evidence-based statements. We summarised this data narratively including the use of figures and tables. RESULTS: We identified 750 websites, of which 48 were included. Over a third of websites did not attribute authorship and almost half the included websites did not report the sources of information or academic references. No website provided written patient information in line with recommendations from the American Medical Association. A minority (18%) of websites were assessed as high quality. Twelve webpages provided only accurate statements. Available information was, in general, skewed towards the surgical management of fibroids. No website scored highly across all three domains. CONCLUSION: In the unlikely event that a website reports high quality and accurate health information, it is typically challenging for a lay audience to comprehend. Healthcare professionals and the wider community, should inform women with fibroids of the risk of outdated, inaccurate, or even dangerous information online. The implementation of an Information Standard certification will incentivise providers of online information to establish and adhere to codes of conduct. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Type: Article
Title: Googling fibroids: A critical appraisal of information available on the internet
Location: Ireland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.04.004
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.04.004
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Accuracy, Fibroids, Online information, Patients, Quality, Readability
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Maternal and Fetal Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Reproductive Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10109504
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