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Evaluation of online health information on clubfoot using the DISCERN tool

Kumar, Venkatesan S.; Subramani, Suresh; Veerapan, Senthil; Khan, Shah A.

Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics B: March 2014 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 135–138
doi: 10.1097/BPB.0000000000000000

The Internet has become a major source of health information on various aspects of clubfoot diagnosis and management. The World Wide Web becomes the first knowledge portal for a large number of anxious parents seeking information on clubfoot. Thus, a good quality webpage should provide necessary and comprehensive information on clubfoot so as to establish clarity in treatment options, compliance and bracing protocols. In contrast, modest quality information can induce bias and poor follow-up. We objectively evaluated online health information on clubfoot using the DISCERN tool. Using the universal search engine, Google, we conducted a Boolean search for the term ‘clubfoot’. Only the first 50 sites providing health information on clubfoot were included in the study. We examined 334 links to include 50 of them. During analysis three websites were excluded because of duplication of content leaving 47 websites that were examined using the DISCERN tool. As per this tool, a score of less than 40% was graded as ‘poor’, 40–79% as ‘fair’ and at least 80% as ‘good’, whereas the overall quality was graded as ‘low’, ‘moderate’ and ‘high’ on similar standards. The overall quality of the publication was ‘low’ in 40% (19) websites, ‘moderate’ in 28% (13) and ‘high’ in 32% (15) of the websites we evaluated. Six (13%) of the publications showed good reliability; 25 (54%) showed fair reliability and 16 (33%) were unreliable. With regard to the quality of information on treatment choices, 44.7% (21) were ‘good’, 46.8% (22) were ‘fair’ and 8.5% (four) were ‘poor’. We conclude that the quality of websites providing online health information on clubfoot needs significant improvement with emphasis on a universally acceptable template for disease information.

Department of Orthopaedics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence to Shah A. Khan, MS, DNB, MRCS(Ed), FRCS, MChOrth(L’pool), Department of Orthopaedics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi-110029, India Tel: +91 981 052 7501; fax: +91 11 26588663; e-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.