Microtia and Social Media: Patient Versus Physician Perspective of Quality of Information

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Previous research demonstrates that patients seek high-quality information on the World Wide Web, especially in rare conditions such as microtia. Social media has overtaken other sources of patient information but quality remains untested. This study quantifies the quality of information for patients with Microtia on social media compared with nonsocial media websites and compares physician and patient scoring on quality using the DISCERN tool.


In phase 1, quality of the top 100 websites featuring information “Microtia” was ranked according to quality score and position on Google showing the position of social media websites among other nonsocial media websites. Phase 2 involved independent scoring of websites on microtia compared with a patient group with microtia to test whether physicians score differently to patients with t test comparison.


Social media websites account for 2% of the scored websites with health providers linking to social media. Social media websites were among the highest ranked on Google. No correlation was found between the quality of information and Google rank. Social media scored higher than nonsocial media websites regarding quality of information on microtia. No significant difference existed between physician and patient quality of information scores on social media and nonsocial media websites (p 1.033).


Physicians and patients objectively score microtia websites alike. Social media websites have higher use despite being few in number compared with nonsocial media websites. Physicians providing links to social media on information websites on rare conditions such as microtia are engaging in current information-seeking trends.

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