In the Journals

Study: Diabetic retinopathy online information lacks accuracy

Online information on diabetic retinopathy is generally low quality and varies by source, a cross-sectional study of 11 medical websites found.

“Too often websites are either too basic and incorrect or more accurate but too complex in their language and word choice,” study co-author Jayanth Sridhar, MD, assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, told Healio.com/OSN. “This is likely dictated by the primary sources either being a layperson writing an article or a clinician author without experience writing for the general public.”

Website accuracy was analyzed from December 2018 to January 2019 using 26 questions to address information most pertinent to patients, and answers were evaluated by two vitreoretinal fellows and a vitreoretinal surgeon on a scale of 0 to 4.

Sites analyzed included the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Society of Retina Specialists, Wikipedia, WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Medical News Today, MedicineNet, National Eye Institute, All About Vision, American Optometric Association and EyeWiki.

The average accuracy score was 55.76 of a possible 104 points, and mean readability — the necessary grade level to understand the data given — was 11.3. A statistically significant variation in quality of website data was also found across all websites (P = .004). No correlations were found between content accuracy and average reading grade or between content accuracy and JAMA benchmarks, with none of the selected sites achieving all four benchmarks of attribution, disclosure, authorship or currency.

“Physicians should be prepared to better educate patients and colleagues who are searching for digital information,” Sridhar said. “There appears to be a gap that needs to be addressed to make online resources both readily understandable by the layperson and clinically accurate.” – by Eamon Dreisbach

Disclosures: Sridhar reports he is a consultant for Alcon, Alimera and Oxurion. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

Online information on diabetic retinopathy is generally low quality and varies by source, a cross-sectional study of 11 medical websites found.

“Too often websites are either too basic and incorrect or more accurate but too complex in their language and word choice,” study co-author Jayanth Sridhar, MD, assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, told Healio.com/OSN. “This is likely dictated by the primary sources either being a layperson writing an article or a clinician author without experience writing for the general public.”

Website accuracy was analyzed from December 2018 to January 2019 using 26 questions to address information most pertinent to patients, and answers were evaluated by two vitreoretinal fellows and a vitreoretinal surgeon on a scale of 0 to 4.

Sites analyzed included the American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Society of Retina Specialists, Wikipedia, WebMD, Mayo Clinic, Medical News Today, MedicineNet, National Eye Institute, All About Vision, American Optometric Association and EyeWiki.

The average accuracy score was 55.76 of a possible 104 points, and mean readability — the necessary grade level to understand the data given — was 11.3. A statistically significant variation in quality of website data was also found across all websites (P = .004). No correlations were found between content accuracy and average reading grade or between content accuracy and JAMA benchmarks, with none of the selected sites achieving all four benchmarks of attribution, disclosure, authorship or currency.

“Physicians should be prepared to better educate patients and colleagues who are searching for digital information,” Sridhar said. “There appears to be a gap that needs to be addressed to make online resources both readily understandable by the layperson and clinically accurate.” – by Eamon Dreisbach

Disclosures: Sridhar reports he is a consultant for Alcon, Alimera and Oxurion. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.