Assessment of the Quality of Internet Information On Sleeve Gastrectomy

Ricard Corcelles, MD, PhD, Hector Romero Talamas, MD, Christopher Daigle, MD, Philip Schauer, MD, PhD, Stacy Brethauer, MD, PhD. Cleveland Clinic Foundation (cleveland. Oh).

The Internet is an important source of information for morbidly obese patients who are potential candidates for bariatric procedures. In the last few years, there is a growing demand for Sleeve Gastrectomy because of perceived technical ease balanced with excellent outcomes. The aim of this study was to assess the quality and content of the internet information available about Sleeve Gastrectomy.

A total of 50 websites were analyzed in September 2013. We used the search term “sleeve gastrectomy” on the most common internet search engines: Google ®, Yahoo ®, Bing ® and Ask ®. Based on popularity of use, 20 websites were obtained through the Google ® engine and 10 sites by each of the others. Websites were classified as academic, physician, health professional, commercial, social network, and unspecified. Quality of information was evaluated using the DISCERN score and JAMA benchmark criteria. The DISCERN score varies from 0 to 80 points and is based on 16 questions that evaluate publication quality and reliability. The JAMA benchmark criteria range from 0 to 4 points assessing website authorship, attribution, disclosure, and currency. Duplicate and inaccessible websites were excluded from the analysis.

We identified 43 websites from the United States, 6 from Mexico and one from Australia. The average DISCERN and JAMA benchmark scores for all websites was 46.32 ± 14.54 and 1.6 ± 1.1 with a median of 48.5 (range, 16 – 76) and 2.0 (range, 0 – 4), respectively. Website classification distribution was 21 physician, 11academic, 7 commercial, 5 social network, 4 unspecified and 2 health professional. The average DISCERN and JAMA benchmark score reported was 55.36 ± 13.42 and 2.36 ± 1.02 in the academic group, 49.47 ± 9.99 and 1.90 ± 0.88 in the physician, 46.89 ± 14.16 and 0.2 ± 0.4 in social network, 44.00 ± 2.82 and 1.0 ± 0.0 in health professional, 41.28 ± 14.23 and 1.0 ± 1.0 in commercial, and 39.75 ± 19.53 and 1.0 ± 1.1 in the unspecified group.

The results of this study suggest that the quality and content of information on the internet viewed by potential bariatric patients is poor. The global mean DISCERN and JAMA benchmark scores reported in this study were significantly lower than one would expect. Academic and physician websites offer the best information content whereas the worst was observed in the commercial and unspecified groups.

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