Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2-17-2015

Publication Title

PloS One

Abstract

Background: There has been an increasing popularity of searching health related information online in recent years. Despite that considerable amount of scoliosis patients have shown interest in obtaining scoliosis information through Internet, previous studies have demonstrated poor quality of online information. However, this conclusion may vary depending on region and culture. Since China has a restricted Internet access outside of its borders, the aim of this study is to evaluate the quality of scoliosis information available online using recognized scoring systems and to analyze the Internet as a source of health information in China.

Methods: A survey-based questionnaire was distributed to 280 respondents at outpatient clinics. Information on demographics and Internet use was collected. Binary logistic analysis was performed to identify possible predictors for the use of Internet. In addition, the top 60 scoliosis related websites assessed through 4 search engines were reviewed by a surgeon and the quality of online information was evaluated using DISCERN score and JAMA benchmark.

Results: Use of the Internet as a source for scoliosis related information was confirmed in 87.8% of the respondents. College education, Internet access at home and urban residence were identified as potential predictors for Internet use. However, the quality of online scoliosis related information was poor with an average DISCERN score of 27.9±11.7 and may be misleading for scoliosis patients.

Conclusion: The study outlines the profile of scoliosis patients who use the Internet as a source of health information. It was shown that 87.8% of the scoliosis patients in outpatient clinics have searched for scoliosis related information on Internet. Urban patients, higher education and Internet access at home were identified as potential predictors for Internet search. However, the overall quality of online scoliosis related information was poor and confusing. Physician based websites seemed to contain more reliable information.

DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0118289

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