Information for Patients With or at Risk of Cancer-Related Lymphedema: An Evaluation of Web Sites

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Abstract

The Internet has great potential to provide information to patients with or at risk of developing cancer-related lymphedema (CRL), a complication of cancer treatment. To evaluate Web site structure (e.g., accreditation, design) and content (e.g., validity) for available Web sites on CRL, lymphedema, lymphoedema, cancer, and oncology were used with 10 search engines (five French and five English). The first page of each Web site was examined and the content was identified and classified using the evaluation model of the Science Panel on Interactive Communication and Health. The search strategy yielded 120 Web sites. Using inclusion and exclusion criteria, 19 Web sites were selected. The authors found that 79% of the Web sites focused exclusively on CRL and 74% were in English. Although information about each site's sponsor, goal, and target audience was readily available, content material was incomplete and evaluation of Web site impact and effectiveness was nonexistent. This review suggests that Web sites about CRL vary greatly in terms of structure and content.

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