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Minerva Anestesiologica 2022 September;88(9):698-705

DOI: 10.23736/S0375-9393.22.16210-3


language: English

Brain death and the internet: evaluating the readability and quality of online health information

Selin GUVEN KOSE 1 , Halil C. KOSE 1, Mehmet ERBAKAN 2, Serkan TULGAR 3

1 Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Health Sciences University Dışkapı Yıldırım Beyazıt Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey; 2 Department of Family Medicine, Maltepe State Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey; 3 Department of Anesthesiology, Samsun Training and Research Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Samsun University, Samsun, Turkey

BACKGROUND: Brain death has been accepted medically and legally as biological death. Nevertheless, it is a difficult concept for the public to understand, resulting in a reliance on online resources for clarity. When the information is inaccurate, misleading, or elusive, the internet could have adverse effects on the public’s decision-making. Here we aimed to assess the quality and readability of information regarding brain death on the internet.
METHODS: The five most popular search engines were queried using the keyword ‘brain death’ and the top 30 websites of each search engine were evaluated. Authorship was classified as medical or public. Gunning Fog Index (GFI) and Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES) were calculated to analyze readability. The LIDA was used to assess quality.
RESULTS: The overall LIDA score was 60,3%, with a mean score of 60.8%, 60.7%, and 59.3% for accessibility, usability, and reliability, respectively, indicating a moderate level. The accessibility of medical websites (P=0.037) and the reliability of public websites (P=0.031) were found to be significantly weaker. The average FRES was 41.6±14.6 rated as difficult, and the mean GFI was 15.7±3.4, indicating mean readability at “difficult, grade >10”.
CONCLUSIONS: Online health information on brain death exceeds the National Institutes of Health recommended reading levels. Our results emphasize the need to establish quality guidelines to improve the comprehensiveness of health website content. Brain death is still a contentious topic; therefore, reliable, and easy-to-read online educational materials can help public understand the concept of brain death and potentially improve the transplant rate.

KEY WORDS: Brain death; Internet; Education

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