Pediatric health information found through online searches is not reliable, according to a report presented Sunday at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, the Birmingham Examiner reports.
For the study, researchers identified the 10 most common pediatric orthopedic conditions based on admissions to a children's hospital. Researchers then used the top two search engines to identify the top 10 websites for each condition.
Ninety-eight websites -- including 33 academic, 31 not-for-profit, 30 commercial and four physician-operated sites -- were scored on a 100-point scale based on Health On the Net Foundation criteria. Three orthopedic surgeons also provided independent quality and content scores for each website.
According to the research, academic websites had the highest content scores, with an average content score of 60.8.
Other average content scores were:
- 57 for physician-operated websites;
- 54.2 for not-for-profit websites; and
- 46.7 for commercial websites (Hamaker, Birmingham Examiner, 10/21).
Andrea Bauer, author of the study, said, "We found the overall quality of information on the websites to be poor."
She added, "Broad, non-specific information quality was the best, such as an overview of a diagnosis, while more specific information about prognosis and long-term effects was the worst" (AAP release, 10/21).
The study recommended that patients verify the medical information they find online with a physician (Birmingham Examiner, 10/21).