Parental internet search in the field of pediatric orthopedics

  • Christian-Dominik PeterleinEmail author
  • Maren Bosch
  • Nina Timmesfeld
  • Susanne Fuchs-Winkelmann
Original Article


Parents whose children are affected by systemic diseases, anomalies, deformities, or further orthopedic defective positions use the Internet to increase their knowledge. However, there have been few studies that focus, as this one does, on Internet enquiries done before the parents contact the pediatric orthopedic surgeon. This study analyzed data gathered through a standardized questionnaire on general habits of Internet use, parents’ hardware, age, and educational background of the parents. A total of 521 questionnaires were completed for a response rate of 96%. One-quarter of parents (n = 127) attended the consultation because of a gait anomaly or foot deformity, followed by children with DDH (20%, n = 99), clubfoot (9%, n = 47), and scoliosis (6%, n = 29). Parents of children with clubfoot were especially likely to look for health information online (84%, n = 38), followed by parents of children with scoliosis (69%, n = 20), with DDH (67%, n = 66), and with foot deformity/gait anomaly (49%, n = 62). Most people (97%, n = 295) using the Internet for health research purposes made use of a search engine. Concerning use of social media, respondents with clubfoot children were the most numerous (38%, n = 18). There were 35 parents who intended to discuss the results of their Internet research with the pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Most (84%, n = 254) of the respondents who used the Internet for health research planned to do so again.

Conclusion: This study documented that the Internet is an important and popular source of information for parents or caregivers in the field of pediatric orthopedics.

Level of evidence: Level II; prospective study

What is known:

Parents and caregivers often search the Internet for information, particularly before an upcoming operation in the field of orthopedic disorders.

What is new:

This study provides recent data on parental Internet research in a large study population.


Internet Study Pediatric orthopedics Social media Clubfoot Scoliosis DDH Cerebral palsy 


Authors’ contributions

Christian-Dominik Peterlein: conceptualization; writing initial draft. Maren Bosch: data curation; layout tables and figures. Nina Timmesfeld: statistical analysis. Susanne Fuchs-Winkelmann: conceptualization; project administration.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies on human participants or animals.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian-Dominik Peterlein
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maren Bosch
    • 1
  • Nina Timmesfeld
    • 2
  • Susanne Fuchs-Winkelmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Orthopaedics and Trauma SurgeryUniversity Hospital Giessen and MarburgMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Medical Biometry and EpidemiologyPhilipps-University of MarburgMarburgGermany

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