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Quality of information regarding abnormal uterine bleeding available online

Published:January 20, 2023DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejogrb.2023.01.020

      Abstract

      Introduction

      The Internet and electronic devices with Internet access allow for a greater fluidity of information and speed of communication, especially in the field of health. Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) affects approximately 3–30% of women and can negatively impact their health and quality of life. Information regarding AUB that is available on the Internet may not be clear or accurate, rendering it difficult to understand and likely to result in delayed medical evaluation, which subsequently leads to worsening of the AUB.

      Objective

      To evaluate the quality of the information regarding AUB currently available on the Internet, including information regarding treatments.

      Methods

      The Google Trends website was searched for the most widely used English terms related to AUB. The identified descriptors were searched individually on the Google, Yahoo!, and Bing search engines. The first 10 results of each search were pre-selected and evaluated for inclusion in this study. Selected websites were categorically divided into two groups (news/magazine and academic) and individually analyzed by three experts using the DISCERN quality criteria (reliability, general quality, and quality of information) and the presence or absence of the Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct (HONcode®) seal.

      Results

      Of the 168 websites included in this study, 60.1% were allocated to the news/magazine group and 39.9% were allocated to the academic group. Over half of the websites (54.2%) did not have the HONcode® quality seal. Websites in the academic group were more likely to include accurate information regarding AUB with greater reliability than websites in the news/magazine group. There were no statistical differences regarding the general quality of the websites. Most websites were rated as either moderate quality (70.8%) or low quality (28.6%). The HONcode® criterion was found to be a confounding factor of the analyses, as the grouping and quality results of websites without this seal were significantly associated. In addition, websites in the news/magazines group were 6.7 times more likely to provide low quality information than websites in the academic group (odds ratio: 6.7; 95% confidence interval: 2.1–21.4).

      Conclusion

      The information regarding AUB that is available on the Internet is of low to moderate quality. Academic websites present more reliable information of greater quality. The presence of the HONcode® seal is considered important to determine the quality of the content of a website, especially for news/magazine websites, and may help Internet users identify websites that contain more reliable information. Algorithms and applications that categorize the quality of information and the reliability of health content may be useful tools that can help patients clarify their symptoms for several conditions including AUB.

      Keywords

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