With an ever-growing reliance on technology, patients are increasingly resorting to websites for their medical information. This study evaluates the readability, quality, and reliability of online information available on rhinoplasty provided by academic centers or impartial reference sources and private practice websites.
A cross-sectional study from July to August 2019 was performed looking at the first 42 informational websites on a Google search for the term nose job. Websites were categorized as belonging to impartial sources and academic centers or private practices. Two independent reviewers evaluated websites on their quality, readability, reliability, and technical qualities using several validated measures. The Health on the Net code (HONcode) and DISCERN questionnaire were used to assess the quality and reliability of the information presented on the websites. Significance tests were performed using SPSS Version 25.
Of the 42 websites, 23 were impartial sources or academic centers (54.8%) and 19 were private practice websites (47.6%). The mean (±SD) for the HONcode and DISCERN scores were 5.7 (±2.8) and 2.6 (±0.7), respectively. The mean (SD) HONcode scores for impartial sources and private practice websites were 7.1 (±2.9) and 4.1 (±1.5), respectively (P < 0.001). The mean (±SD) DISCERN scores were 2.9 (±0.7) and 2.3 (±0.5), respectively (P = 0.009). There was no statistically significant difference in scores for readability and technical qualities.
While impartial sources and academic centers score higher on quality and reliability scores, their scores were also low. These findings are concerning as many consumers use the information provided by online websites to guide decisions regarding their health.