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A systematic review of internet-based information for individuals with Raynaud’s phenomenon and patients with systemic sclerosis

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A Correction to this article was published on 11 May 2020

This article has been updated



Patients are increasingly using internet-based information to inform healthcare utilization and treatment decisions. Our aim was to examine the quality and readability of internet-based information relating to Raynaud’s phenomenon (RP) and systemic sclerosis (SSc).

Material and methods

A systematic review of three commonly used search engines (Google®, Yahoo®, and Bing®) using the terms “Raynaud’s phenomenon” and “systemic sclerosis” separately. The first 30 websites per search engine were examined. Quality was assessed using the DISCERN questionnaire and readability by the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, SMOG Index, Coleman-Liau index, and Flesch Reading Ease score.


Fifty-two studies (30 RP and 22 SSc) were included after duplicates and exclusion criteria were applied. The overall quality of information was low for both SSc and RP (1.99 & 2.21), including in relation to reliability of the literature and information on treatment choices. Readability for RP and SSc was also poor (i.e., the texts were difficult to read) across all of the four methods examined.


Overall, RP and SSc internet-based information is of low quality and inadequate readability. The RP and SSc international community should strongly consider developing an information standard for internet-based resources for healthcare users.

Key points:

• Patients with SSc and RP are increasingly using internet/online sources of information and support.

• RP represents an important opportunity for the early diagnosis of SSc.

• The overall quality and readability of internet-based RP and SSc information is poor.

• Internet-based RP and SSc information requires improvement to facilitate early diagnosis and inform shared decision-making.

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Fig. 1

Change history

  • 11 May 2020

    The authors have identified an error in thier manuscript and have incorrectly referred to the overall DISCERN score for SSc and RP as 2.21 and 1.99, respectively, in the abstract and discussion. The correct DISCERN quality scores are listed in Table 2.


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Correspondence to Michael Hughes.

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Devgire, V., Martin, A.F., McKenzie, L. et al. A systematic review of internet-based information for individuals with Raynaud’s phenomenon and patients with systemic sclerosis. Clin Rheumatol 39, 2363–2367 (2020).

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