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Quality of information on the internet related to bladder pain syndrome: a systematic review of the evidence


Introduction and hypothesis

Bladder pain syndrome (BPS) has an impact on quality of life and available treatments often only provide temporary symptomatic relief. The information provided by websites can be valuable for patient education and management. The hypothesis was to assess medical information available on the internet related to bladder pain syndrome in terms of accuracy, credibility, readability and quality.


A search was performed in the meta-search engine Copernic Agent, using the search terms “bladder pain syndrome, interstitial cystitis, painful bladder syndrome and pelvic pain”, which simultaneously captured websites from a range of engines. Websites in the English language that were open-access were included. The four quality assessments used were: credibility using a ten-point scale, accuracy based on the American Urological Association guidelines, quality using the DISCERN questionnaire and readability using the Flesch Reading Ease Score. Inter-rater agreement was tested by intra-class coefficient (ICC).


Eighteen suitable websites were identified; 7 (39%) were specialist or specific to BPS. The combined mean scores for accuracy, quality, credibility and readability ranged from 83 to 144 for specialist websites and 76 to 137 for non-specialist ones, with a maximum possible score of 208. There was good inter-observer agreement for the assessments performed with an ICC ranging from 0.80 for DISCERN to 0.53 for readability. Specialist websites had higher quality scores (median difference 10, p = 0.07) and readability scores (median difference 5.4, p = 0.05) compared with non-specialist websites whereas credibility and accuracy scores were no different.


We found four websites that fulfilled our criteria for good quality information.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



American Urological Association


Bladder pain syndrome


Confidence interval


Dimethyl sulfoxide


Flesch Reading Ease test


Intra-class co-efficient


Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses


International Prospective Register for Systematic Reviews


Standard deviation


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Correspondence to S. A. Tirlapur.

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Brief summary

Patient-accessible information on the internet related to bladder painsyndrome can be variable in terms of quality, credibility, accuracy and readability

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Tirlapur, S.A., Leiu, C. & Khan, K.S. Quality of information on the internet related to bladder pain syndrome: a systematic review of the evidence. Int Urogynecol J 24, 1257–1262 (2013).

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  • Accuracy
  • Bladder pain syndrome
  • Credibility
  • Internet
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Readability