Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a global public health problem, causing long-term burden to patients and caregivers. Patients and their families often resort to seeking online information regarding TBI management whilst awaiting formal healthcare consultations. Although this information is accessible and immediately available, little is known about the quality of online resources. We evaluated the accessibility, relevance, and readability of information regarding TBI from major online search engines.
TBI-related search terms were entered into two online search engines (Google, Yahoo), and the first 30 websites per search were assessed for eligibility. Quality (DISCERN score, JAMA Benchmark score) and readability (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES)) were assessed. Associations between search ranking, quality, and readability were evaluated.
202 websites were evaluated with mean DISCERN score 36.5±9.9/80, signifying poor global quality, and mean JAMA Benchmark score 2.8±1.1/4. The majority required 9 – 12 years of education (113/202; 55.9%) according to FKGL and categorised as ‘Difficult’ on FRES (94/202; 46.5%). Website quality was not associated with search ranking or readability.
There is a paucity of high-quality online resources for TBI patients. Herein, we highlight: (i) the importance of guidance from healthcare professionals regarding online-information seeking; (ii) recommendations for the most useful online resources available.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.