Quality and readability of online patient information regarding sclerotherapy for venous malformations
Patients often use the internet as a source of information about their condition and treatments. However, this information is unregulated and varies in quality.
To evaluate the readability and quality of online information for pediatric and adult patients and caregivers regarding sclerotherapy for venous malformations.
Materials and methods
“Venous malformation sclerotherapy” was entered into Google, and results were reviewed until 20 sites that satisfied predefined inclusion criteria were identified. Scientific and non-patient-focused web pages were excluded. Readability was assessed using the Flesch Reading Ease Score and American Medical Association reading difficulty recommendations and quality was assessed using Journal of the American Medical Association standards and assessing if the site displayed HONcode (Health on the Net Code) certification. Assessment of the breadth of relevant information was made using a predefined checklist.
Forty-nine search engine results were reviewed before 20 sites were identified for analysis. Average Flesch Reading Ease Score was 44 (range: 24.2–70.1), representing a “fairly difficult” reading level. None of the sites had a Flesch Reading Ease Score meeting the American Medical Association recommendation of 80-90. Only one site met all four Journal of the American Medical Association quality criteria (average: 2.1). None of the sites displayed a HONcode seal. The information most frequently found was: sclerotherapy is performed by radiologists, multiple treatments may be needed and surgery is an alternative treatment.
Online information regarding sclerotherapy for venous malformations is heterogeneous in quality and breadth of information, and does not meet readability recommendations for patient information. Radiologists should be aware of and account for this when meeting patients.
KeywordsChildren Internet Interventional radiology Patient information Sclerotherapy Venous malformation
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
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