Quality and readability of online information about type 2 diabetes and nutrition

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Abstract

Objective:

The internet has become a vital resource through which patients learn about medical conditions. The aim of this study was to assess the quality and readability of online information about nutrition and diabetes management.

Methods:

An internet search was conducted using three search terms of varying sophistication (how to eat with diabetes, diabetes diet, and medical nutrition therapy for diabetes) and the three most popular search engines (Yahoo, Bing, and Google). Forty-two websites were prospectively analyzed for quality of information and assessed for readability using the Flesch-Kincaid score.

Results:

The 42 websites reviewed demonstrated wide variability in quality, regardless of the search term entered. The reading level required to understand the materials varied based on sophistication of the search term and ranged from the 6th- to the 11th-grade level.

Conclusions:

The quality of online information on nutrition education for patients with diabetes was extremely variable and readability often was higher than the average American reading level (8th grade). An awareness of quality and readability of the materials found on the internet can strengthen the patient-provider relationship.

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