Content, quality, and readability of website information on dental care for patients with cancer

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Abstract

Objective.

This study assessed content, quality, and readability of patient-directed Internet materials about dental care support and oral toxicities/complications of cancer therapy.

Study Design.

A total of 32 websites meeting inclusion criteria from a Google search using terms “cancer>dental>care” were categorized for parameters of content, benchmarks for website quality as defined by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), display of the Health on the Net (HON) seal, and Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES).

Results.

Treatment modalities included radiation therapy, chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and surgery. Dental care was discussed before, during, or after cancer treatment, or a combination of those. The most common oral toxicities/complications discussed were xerostomia, rampant caries, and mucositis. Only 1 site met all 4 JAMA benchmarks; 2 displayed the HON seal; only 9% were written at the 9th-grade FRES reading level; and none were written at the 6th- to 7th-grade level.

Conclusions.

Websites addressing dental care for patients with cancer are broad in content yet are limited in quality and are written at difficult reading levels.

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