BMC musculoskeletal disorders 2018 04 1119(1) 112 doi 10.1186/s12891-018-2018-6
The objective of this study was to assess the source, quality, accuracy, and completeness of Internet-based information for shoulder arthritis.
A web search was performed using three common Internet search engines and the top 50 sites from each search were analyzed. Information sources were categorized into academic, commercial, non-profit, and physician sites. Information quality was measured using the Health On the Net (HON) Foundation principles, content accuracy by counting factual errors and completeness using a custom template.
After removal of duplicates and sites that did not provide an overview of shoulder arthritis, 49 websites remained for analysis. The majority of sites were from commercial (n = 16, 33%) and physician (n = 16, 33%) sources. An additional 12 sites (24%) were from an academic institution and five sites (10%) were from a non-profit organization. Commercial sites had the highest number of errors, with a five-fold likelihood of containing an error compared to an academic site. Non-profit sites had the highest HON scores, with an average of 9.6 points on a 16-point scale. The completeness score was highest for academic sites, with an average score of 19.2 ± 6.7 (maximum score of 49 points); other information sources had lower scores (commercial, 15.2 ± 2.9; non-profit, 18.7 ± 6.8; physician, 16.6 ± 6.3).
Patient information on the Internet regarding shoulder arthritis is of mixed accuracy, quality, and completeness. Surgeons should actively direct patients to higher-quality Internet sources.