Urology and the Internet: an evaluation of Internet use by urology patients and of information available on urological topics

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ObjectiveTo determine the use of the Internet by urological patients for obtaining information about their disease, and to conduct an evaluation of urological websites to determine the quality of information available.Patients and methodsQuestionnaires about Internet use were completed by 180 patients attending a general urological outpatient clinic and by 143 patients attending a prostate cancer outpatient clinic. The Internet evaluation was conducted by reviewing 50 websites listed by the Hotbot™ search engine for two urological topics, prostate cancer and testicular cancer, and recording details such as authorship, information content, references and information scores.ResultsOf the patients actively seeking further information about their health, 19% of the general urological outpatient group and 24% of the prostate cancer group used the Internet to obtain this information. Most websites were either academic or biomedical (62%), provided conventional information (95%), and were not referenced (71%). The information score (range 10–100) was 44.3 for testicular cancer and 50.7 for prostate cancer; the difference in scores was not significant.ConclusionThe use of the Internet by patients is increasing, with > 20% of urology patients using the Internet to obtain further information about their health. Most Internet websites for urological topics provide conventional and good quality information. Urologists should be aware of the need to familiarize themselves with urological websites. Patients can then be directed to high-quality sites to allow them to educate themselves and to help them avoid misleading or unconventional websites.

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