Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 38, Issue 11, pp 3269–3274 | Cite as

Quality and readability of online information on ankylosing spondylitis

  • Burhan Fatih KocyigitEmail author
  • Tuba Tulay Koca
  • Mazlum Serdar Akaltun
Original Article



Obtaining online health-related information is becoming increasingly popular among patients. The attainment of information through websites is easy and practical, but there is no mechanism to check the accuracy and quality of this information. This leads to concerns about information from websites. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the quality and readability of ankylosing spondylitis–related websites in this study.


This is a descriptive study. Websites were searched on a popular search engine with the search term ankylosing spondylitis on March 2, 2019. We recorded the URLs of the first 200 websites listed in the query results. Typologies, quality, and readability were evaluated on these websites. Websites were divided into eight categories (commercial, government, health portal, news, non-profit, professional, scientific journal, and others) according to typology. The JAMA scoring system and the presence of HONcode certification were used to assess the quality. The Flesch-Kincaid grade and the Simple Measure of Gobbledygook were used to evaluate the readability.


Of the websites analyzed, 46% were in the high-quality group. We found that scientific journals and news were of higher quality, and commercial and other websites were of poorer quality. The average readability grades of the websites were 8.59 ± 2.42 and 7.33 ± 1.54, which were slightly worse than the recommended value. Additionally, the readability grades were significantly higher on high-quality websites (p < 0.05).


The quality of information on websites is variable. High-quality information about ankylosing spondylitis is available online, particularly from scientific journals and news. The poor readability of websites that provide high-quality information is a problem for patients with low health literacy. Editors should take into account readability while aiming to present high-quality information on websites.

Key Points

• Websites have become an important source of health-related information in parallel with the increase in internet use.

• Less than half of the ankylosing spondylitis–related websites (46%) were of high quality according to JAMA scores.

• The average readability grades of the ankylosing spondylitis–related websites were slightly worse than the recommended values.

• High-quality websites had higher readability grades. Therefore, high-quality websites may not be understood by patients with low literacy levels.

• No significant difference was found between the websites on the first page (n = 10) and remaining websites (n = 102) in terms of quality and readability.


Ankylosing spondylitis Google Information quality Internet Readability 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

In this study, the researchers did not assess any human participants or animals. Websites that anyone can access were assessed. Therefore, there was no need for the approval of the ethics committee for the study.




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Copyright information

© International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Burhan Fatih Kocyigit
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tuba Tulay Koca
    • 1
  • Mazlum Serdar Akaltun
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationKahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam UniversityKahramanmaraşTurkey
  2. 2.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationNecip Fazıl State HospitalKahramanmaraşTurkey

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