“Dr. Google” Will See You Now—Assessing the Quality of Information on Oesophageal Cancer on the Internet
Increasingly, patients are consulting the internet for medical information, where the quality is highly variable. We must ensure patients are directed towards high-quality websites. This is particularly true of oesophageal cancer which is often detected at an advanced stage and is frequently fatal. We aim to assess the quality of information on oesophageal cancer available for patients on the Internet.
Methods and Materials
We searched the top 3 search engines for “Esophageal Cancer”. We analysed the top 20 websites returned by Google and the top 10 websites returned by Yahoo and Bing. All free, English language websites which did not require a password were included. We excluded paid advertisement websites and websites for medical professionals. Duplicate websites were removed. Each website was then evaluated using the JAMA benchmarks, DISCERN tool, presence or absence of the Health On The Internet (HON) seal and the Esophageal Cancer Specific Content Score (ECSCS).
The average JAMA score was 2 with only three of the eighteen unique websites scoring the maximum of 4 points (17%). The average DISCERN score was 51.5 (64%) with no website achieving the maximum of 80. The HON seal was present in only 5 websites (28%). The average ECSCS was 9.2 with only two websites achieving the maximum of 12 (11%).
Whilst there are certainly websites providing high-quality information for patients in relation to oesophageal cancer, our study has identified obvious issues. We must ensure that only the highest-quality information is available on the Internet for patients.
KeywordsOesophageal cancer JAMA benchmark DISCERN tool Quality of information
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