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Quality and Readability of English-Language Internet Information for Tinnitus
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Linköping University, The Swedish Institute for Disability Research. Lamar Univ, TX 77710 USA; Audiol India, India; Manipal Univ, India.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1254-8407
Lamar Univ, TX 77710 USA.
Lamar Univ, TX 77710 USA.
Lamar Univ, TX 77710 USA.
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2019 (English)In: Journal of american academy of audiology, ISSN 1050-0545, E-ISSN 2157-3107, Vol. 30, no 1, p. 31-40Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background:

Because of the wealth of information available on the internet and increasing numbers of individuals relying on websites as a primary source of information for health-related questions, it is important that the readability of their content is within the comprehension level of most readers.

Objective:

The study evaluated the quality and readability of English-language Internet information for tinnitus.

Research Design:

Analysis of Internet websites on tinnitus.

Study Sample:

A total of 134 websites with tinnitus information.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Three key words (i.e., tinnitus, ringing in the ear, and buzzing in the ear) were entered in five country-specific versions of the most commonly used internet search engine in August 2016. For each of the 15 searches, the first 20 relevant websites were examined. After removing duplicates, a total of 134 websites were assessed. Their origin (commercial, nonprofit organization, government, personal, or university), quality (Health On the Net [HON] certification and DISCERN scores), and readability (Flesch Reading Ease score, Flesch-Kincaid Reading Grade Level Formula, and Simple Measure of Gobbledygook) were assessed.

Results:

Most websites were of commercial (49.3%) or nonprofit organization (38.8%) origin. Their quality and readability was highly variable. Only 13.5% of websites had HON certification. χ2 analysis showed that there was significant association between website origin and HON certification [χ2(4) = 132.9, p < 0.0001]. The mean DISCERN scores were 2.39. No association between DISCERN scores and website origin was found. Readability measures showed that on average, only people with at least 10‐12 yr of education could read and understand the internet information for tinnitus in websites. Almost all the websites exceeded the most stringent reading level recommended for health information.

Conclusions:

The results highlight great variability in the quality and readability of health information, specifically for tinnitus in the internet. These findings underscores the need for stakeholders (e.g., web-developers, clinicians) to be aware of this and to develop more user-friendly health information on websites to make it more accessible for people with low literacy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Reston, VA, United States: American Academy of Audiology , 2019. Vol. 30, no 1, p. 31-40
Keywords [en]
health information quality; health information readability; internet health information; tinnitus
National Category
Other Medical Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-158389DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.17070ISI: 000467875800004PubMedID: 30461391Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85059739595OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-158389DiVA, id: diva2:1333488
Available from: 2019-07-01 Created: 2019-07-01 Last updated: 2019-08-09Bibliographically approved

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Andersson, Gerhard

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Disability ResearchFaculty of Arts and SciencesThe Swedish Institute for Disability ResearchPsychologyDepartment of Otorhinolaryngology
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