An Evaluation of Websites Offering Caregiver Education for Tracheostomy and Home Mechanical Ventilation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Parental and familial caregivers of a child with a tracheostomy, and possibly home mechanical ventilation (HMV), face the overwhelming task of learning to medically care for their child prior to discharge. Caregivers may cope by seeking health information on the Internet. This is concerning because information found during an Internet search may not be accurate, comprehensive, or up to date. The purpose of this project was to evaluate the quality and content of websites offering information about tracheostomies and HMV using a valid assessment tool.


A total of 46 websites were identified for evaluation using the DISCERN instrument for quality and reliability, and the Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) and Flesh- Kincaid (FK) grade level instruments for readability. Accuracy of content was determined by expert opinion.


Few of the websites met the recommended quality and/or readability levels. The websites recommended had a range of DISCERN scores 21-40, adjusted FRE 61-89.1, and adjusted FK 3.4-6.9. Many of the highest quality websites had a readability level at high school or college levels.


The quality and readability of websites offering caregiver education for tracheostomy and HMV are not at a level suitable for caregivers. There was often a mismatch between DISCERN quality and readability. Many high-quality websites would not be easily read and understood by the general lay population.

Application to practice

DISCERN alone is not sufficient to determine whether a website should be recommended. One should consider reliability, quality, and readability when developing patient education materials, including those on the Internet.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Misra, AR; Oermann, MH; Teague, MS; Ledbetter, LS

Published Date

  • January 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 56 /

Start / End Page

  • 64 - 69

PubMed ID

  • 33186865

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-8449

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0882-5963

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.pedn.2020.09.014


  • eng