THE WEB: FRIEND OR FOE OF THE HAND SURGEON?
Healthcare information contained on the World Wide Web is not screened or regulated and claims may be unsubstantiated and misleading. The objective of this study was to evaluate the nature and quality of information on the Web in relation to hand surgery. Three search engines were assessed for information on three hand operations: carpal tunnel decompression, Dupuytren's release and trigger finger release. Websites were classified and evaluated for completeness, accuracy, accountability and reference to a reliable source of information. A total of 172 websites were examined. Although 85% contained accurate information, in 65% this information was incomplete. Eighty-seven per cent of websites were accountable for the information presented, but only 24% made references to reliable sources. Until an organised approach to website control is established, it is important for hand surgeons to emphasise to their patients that not everything they read is complete or accurate. Publicising sites known to be of high quality will promote safe browsing of the Web.
Sproule, JA; Tansey, C; Burns, B; Fenelon, G
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