A fountain of knowledge? The quality of online resources for testicular cancer patients
Keywords:cancer, testicular cancer, internet, patient education, online information
Introduction: Testicular cancer is the most common solid malignancy diagnosed in young men aged 15–29. This population is also the age group that searches most actively for health information online. This study systematically evaluates the quality of websites available to patients with testicular cancer.
Methods: The term “testicular cancer” was inputted into the search engines Google, Dogpile, and Yippy. The top 100 websites intended for patient education were compiled. A validated structural rating tool was used to evaluate the websites with respect to attribution, currency, disclosure, interactivity, readability, and content.
Results: Less than half of the websites (44) disclosed authorship. Sixty-one websites provided a last modified date, and of those, 46 were updated in the last two years. The average readability level was 11.01 using the Flesh-Kincaid grade level system. The most accurate topic was treatment, with 82 websites being completely accurate and containing all required information. The least accurate topic was prognosis, with 27 being completely accurate.
Conclusions: These results show that authorship and currency are lacking in many online testicular resources, making it difficult for patients to validate the reliability of information. The high average readability of testicular cancer websites can affect comprehension. Topics such as prognosis were incompletely covered although represent an area for which patients often seek more information. These results can be used to counsel patients on the strength and weaknesses of online testicular cancer resources.
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