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Keywords:

  • adolescent;
  • Internet;
  • pediatric cancer;
  • patient education;
  • quality of information;
  • self-management

Abstract

Objectives

To assess the quality and content of Internet information about cancer from the perspectives of adolescents with cancer (AWC), their parents and healthcare professionals (HCP).

Methods

Key words relevant to pediatric cancer were searched across 6 search engines. Quality of information was appraised using the DISCERN tool. Website content completeness, accuracy, readability, cultural sensitivity, and desirability were assessed.

Results

Only 29 websites had DISCERN scores above 50 (indicating fair quality; mean 55.76 ± 8.23, range 42.50–70.5). The majority of sites targeted parents and only four (14%) were specific to AWC. Overall completeness of the sites was rated 11.46 out of 20 (±3.60; range 4–17.5) and accuracy was rated 4/4, indicating high accuracy with moderate completeness. The average SMOG score was 11.87 (±2.51, range 7.7–18.67) and the Flesch Reading Ease score was 57.44 (±16.94, range 9.1–92.4) indicating that the material was too difficult to read. The average cultural sensitivity scores for the Format, Written message and Visual material scales were 3.08/4 (±0.53, range 2–4), 3.48/4 (±0.41, range 2.6–4) and 2.84/4 (±1.03, range 0–4) indicating the websites were adequately culturally sensitive. On Average, websites had 4/21 features from the desirability checklist, indicating the sites had low desirability.

Conclusion

Given the paucity of high quality Internet health information at an appropriate reading level for AWC there is a critical need for HCP's to develop Internet programs to meet their unique needs. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2011;57:97–104. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.