This study aimed to assess the quality and readability of patient education information available on the internet on testicular cancer.
Internet searches were performed using the keywords 'testicular cancer', 'testicular tumour', 'testicular tumor', 'testicular malignancy', 'germ cell tumour' and 'germ cell tumor' using Google, Yahoo! And Bing search engines with default settings. The first 50 web links appeared in each search engine were evaluated for their readability by using the validated Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES) while accessibility, usability and reliability were assessed using the LIDA tool. The quality was assessed using DISCERN instrument. Non-parametric tests were used for statistical analysis.
Overall, 900 websites were assessed and 62 websites were included in the analysis. Twenty two (22) websites (35.5%) were certified by Health on the Net Foundation code of conduct (HON code). The majority (n = 57, 91.9%) were non-governmental websites. The median FRES score was 51.6 (range: 28.1-74.1), the overall median LIDA score was 115 (range: 81-147); accessibility 55 (range: 46-61), reliability 22 (range: 8-45) and usability 38.5 (range: 21-50), while the median DISCERN score was 43.5 (range: 16-69). The DISCERN score was significantly associated with the overall LIDA score and usability and reliability components of the LIDA score (p < 0.001). However, no significant associations were observed between readability and accessibility. A significant correlation was noted between usability and reliability components of the LIDA score (Spearman's rho: 0.789, p < 0.001).
In this study, the readability, reliability and quality scores of most websites were found to be suboptimal and hence, there is potential for improvement. As the internet is expanding rapidly as a readily available source of information to the public, it is essential to implement steps to ensure that highest quality information is provided without any commercial motivation or bias.