Pediatric urology and the internet--does an uncommon topic decrease content quality?
PURPOSE: The Internet has become a widely used resource for patients and families to obtain medical information but the quality of information available is highly variable. We sought to determine if Web pages addressing common and uncommon pediatric urology topics differ in terms of quality or characteristics. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed an Internet search using 5 common conditions (vesicoureteral reflux, hypospadias, prenatal hydronephrosis, cryptorchidism, enuresis) and 5 uncommon conditions (exstrophy, prune belly, posterior urethral valves, Wilms tumor, ureterocele). We recorded total hits, presence of sponsored links, page owner and author type, last update, content quality, readability, accreditation and advertising. Content quality was graded on a 5-point scale for accuracy and completeness of natural history, diagnosis and treatment. RESULTS: We evaluated 100 sites on 10 topics. Common topics had more hits (980,000 vs 194,000) and were more likely to have sponsored advertisements (40% vs 0%) than uncommon topics. No difference was seen between topics in time from last update, owner/author type, financial disclosure, accreditation or advertising. Median quality grade was 4.0. Common topics had higher quality grades for disease natural history and diagnosis. Reading grade level was high and was similar between the groups. CONCLUSIONS: Web sites devoted to common pediatric urology topics have higher quality information for disease diagnosis and natural history. Otherwise, the quality of pediatric urology information on the Internet is high for common and uncommon topics. A high reading level is required to use these resources.
Routh, JC; Gong, EM; Nelson, CP
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