An evaluation of websites providing patient information on stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for stage I lung cancer in three Western European countries
Wendy Hopmans, Naomi E. Verstegen, Cornelis J.A. Haasbeek, Olga C. Damman, Ben J. Slotman, Danielle R.M. Timmermans and Suresh Senan
Background: The use of stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) for the treatment of stage I lung cancer has been associated with improvements in population-based survival in Western Europe. As patients are increasingly accessing the Internet for information on health-related topics, we evaluated the quality, usability and readability of online patient information about SBRT in three adjacent Western European countries.
Materials and Methods: We conducted a web search and analysis between May – June 2011. Thirteen key terms were entered into the Google search engine. We analyzed websites from the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, by using the DISCERN instrument, a tool designed to assess the quality of health information on treatment choices. In addition, websites’ usability and readability were examined.
Results: We identified a total of 20 websites. None of the websites received an excellent or good quality rating and only two were rated as fair (both from the United Kingdom). DISCERN scores rated 55% (N = 11) of the websites as poor, and 35% (N = 7) as very poor. Dutch websites had the lowest scores. Five websites attained relatively high usability scores, and none had sufficient readability scores.
Conclusions: Despite the fact that SBRT is widely used as a standard therapy in elderly patients with stage I NSCLC in the Netherlands, only limited high quality information is available on the Internet. Improvements in quality information available on the Internet are required in order to increase patient participation in decision-making.
Keywords: Stereotactic body radiation therapy, lung cancer, Internet, quality, usability, readability, decision making, patient participation