Improving on-line information for potential living kidney donors
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Individuals who consider becoming living kidney donors often search the internet for reliable information before contacting the transplant center. The quality of such information requires due consideration. Using the search engines Google and Yahoo and the WebMD information portal, two reviewers independently abstracted data on the classification, readability, and general quality of websites. The coverage and accuracy of each site's discussion of the risks, benefits, and process of living donation was also assessed against a checklist of recommended information. Eighty-six unique websites on living kidney donation were found. Most were created by transplant programs and transplant organizations. Although the content of most sites was accurate, almost all (98%) were written above the recommended patient reading level (i.e., fifth grade). On average, each site covered 38% of the recommended information on living donation (range 8-76%). Educational topics of potential long-term medical risks, psychological risks, and expected benefits to the donor were often missing. The most visited websites were often not ranked among the best sites to provide information. By better understanding the nature of on-line information, transplant professionals can direct their patients to the best available websites. Local educational efforts, including the effective use of internet resources, will ensure living donation and complete understanding of the risks by potential donors and recipients.
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