Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy Online: What Patients Find when Searching the World Wide Web

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Abstract

Background:

To objectively assess the quality of information available on the World Wide Web on cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT). Patients frequently search the internet regarding their healthcare issues. It has been shown that patients seeking information can help or hinder their healthcare outcomes depending on the quality of information consulted. On the internet, this information can be produced and published by anyone, resulting in the risk of patients accessing inaccurate and misleading information.

Methods:

The search term “Cardiac Resynchronisation Therapy” was entered into the three most popular search engines and the first 50 pages on each were pooled and analyzed, after excluding websites inappropriate for objective review. The “LIDA” instrument (a validated tool for assessing quality of healthcare information websites) was to generate scores on Accessibility, Reliability, and Usability. Readability was assessed using the Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES).

Results:

Of the 150 web-links, 41 sites met the eligibility criteria. The sites were assessed using the LIDA instrument and the FRES. A mean total LIDA score for all the websites assessed was 123.5 of a possible 165 (74.8%). The average Accessibility of the sites assessed was 50.1 of 60 (84.3%), on Usability 41.4 of 54 (76.6%), on Reliability 31.5 of 51 (61.7%), and 41.8 on FRES. There was a significant variability among sites and interestingly, there was no correlation between the sites' search engine ranking and their scores.

Conclusion:

This study has illustrated the variable quality of online material on the topic of CRT. Furthermore, there was also no apparent correlation between highly ranked, popular websites and their quality. Healthcare professionals should be encouraged to guide their patients toward the online material that contains reliable information.

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