Perspectives on quality and content of information on the internet for adolescents with cancer
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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.