Partial Tonsillectomy: Content and Readability of Online Health Information

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Abstract

Objectives:

Evaluate the content and readability of health information regarding partial tonsillectomy.

Methods:

A web search was performed using the term partial tonsillectomy in Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. The first 50 websites from each search were evaluated using HONcode standards for quality and content. Readability was assessed using the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), Flesch Reading Ease, Gunning-Fog Index, Coleman-Liau Index, Automated Readability Index, and SMOG score. The Freeman-Halton extension of Fisher’s exact test was used to compare categorical differences between engines.

Results:

Less than half of the websites mentioned patient eligibility criteria (43.3%), referenced peer-reviewed literature (43.3%), or provided a procedure description (46.7%). Twenty-two websites (14.7%) were unrelated to partial tonsillectomy, and over half contained advertisements (52%). These finding were consistent across search engines and search terms. The mean FKGL was 11.6 ± 0.11, Gunning-Fog Index was 15.1 ± 0.13, Coleman-Liau Index was 14.6 ± 0.11, ARI was 12.9 ± 0.13, and SMOG grade was 14.0 ± 0.1. All readability levels exceeded the abilities of the average American adult.

Conclusions:

Current online information regarding partial tonsillectomy may not provide adequate information and may be written at a level too difficult for the average adult reader.

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