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C. A. Jones, F. H. Zaidi; Thyroid Eye Disease, Blepharoplasty and the Internet. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):5057.
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As the internet is increasingly used as a primary source of information we have reviewed the quality of information available to patients on the topics of thyroid eye disease (TED) and blepharoplasty.
The words ‘thyroid eye disease’ and ‘blepharoplasty’ were subjected to an advanced keyword search. This analyses average monthly search volumes over a 12 month period using the Google search engine for these and related search terms. These and the most popular search terms were then inputted into Google and the first 5 pages of websites for each search term were studied using a validated instrument. The 4 criteria published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) for qualifying information from the internet were used in the analysis, yielding a possible score of between 0 and 4.
200 websites were studied and these criteria could fully be applied to 142 of them. All 4 criteria were satisfied by 10% of sites (TED-related search terms) and 2.5% of sites (blepharoplasty-related search terms); 3 criteria were met by 17% (TED) and 6.5% (blepharoplasty); 2 criteria by 7% (TED) and 10% (blepharoplasty); 1 criterion by 20% (TED) and 41% (blepharoplasty). 46% (TED) and 40% of sites (blepharoplasty) scored zero for objective quality. Superior scores were achieved by peer-reviewed journals, online abstracts, book chapters and medipedias (online medical encyclopedias). Counter-intuitively the websites of professional bodies including academic institutions scored poorly. The lowest mean scores were obtained by private clinics and hospitals’ websites. This is different from the quality of information available in other fields, in retinopathy of prematurity over one third of sites identified scored highly for quality and the majority were of a fair or better standard.
The quality of information on TED and blepharoplasty is poor and this is particularly of relevance in TED where good patient information such as advice against smoking would improve patient outcomes. These findings are of specific relevance to how scientists and clinicians inform patients in this age where a wealth of information and misinformation is available on the internet
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