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Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 2020 Dec 15

DOI: 10.23736/S0390-5616.20.05243-1

Copyright © 2020 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

lingua: Inglese

What is the quality of the information available on the internet for patients suffering with sciatica?

Marco MANCUSO-MARCELLO 1, Andreas K. DEMETRIADES 1, 2

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Little France Edinburgh, UK; 2 Edinburgh Spinal Surgery Outcome Studies Group


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BACKGROUND: Sciatica is a common neurological condition with a wide variety of clinical specialists and allied health professionals involved, and a broad range of treatment options. We sought to assess the quality of information available on the internet.
METHODS: An internet search for ‘sciatica’ was performed using ‘Google’. The first fifty links were assessed using the DISCERN instrument, a validated questionnaire for health consumers and providers.
RESULTS: After exclusions, 44 websites were assessed. Only 37% of sites had clear aims and objectives; 79% provided relevant information; 81% did not provide clear sources of their information; 67% had no indication of when the information was compiled or updated; 63% clarified that more than one treatment option was available; only 28% described in moderate to extensive detail how the various treatment modalities might work; only 14% informed patients of potential risks and complications for each treatment. The biased and/or unbalanced websites amounted to 40%, offering greater detail about one treatment modality over others. Overall, 93% of assessed websites did not inform patients of the consequences/natural history if no treatment were undertaken; and 91% did not describe the potential impact of treatment and how it could affect quality of life.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite the role that the internet plays in everyday life, information on the common and debilitating condition of sciatica is mostly of low-to-moderate quality, and with serious shortcomings. Healthcare stakeholders ought to be aware of the risks of misinformation and ensure that health-related internet website design and upkeep is guided by instruments such as DISCERN.


KEY WORDS: Sciatica; Internet; Quality of information; DISCERN instrument

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