The quality and readability of online consumer information about gynaecological cancer

Aleksandra Sobota, Gozde Ozakinci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: The Internet has become an important source of health-related information for consumers, among whom younger women constitute a notable group. The aims of this study were: (1) to evaluate the quality and
readability of online information about gynaecological cancer using validated instruments; and (2) to relate the quality of information to its readability.

Methods: Using the Alexa Rank we obtained a list of 35 webpages providing information about 7 gynaecological malignancies. These were assessed using the HON seal of approval, the JAMA benchmarks, and the DISCERN instrument. Flesch readability score was calculated for sections related to symptoms and signs, and treatment.

Results: Less than 30% of the webpages displayed the HON seal or achieved all JAMA benchmarks. The majority of the treatment sections were of moderate to high quality according to the DISCERN. There was no
significant relationship between the presence of the HON seal and readability. Webpages achieving all JAMA benchmarks were significantly more difficult to read and understand than webpages that missed any of the
JAMA benchmarks. Treatment-related content of moderate to high quality as assessed by the DISCERN had a significantly better readability score than the low quality content.

Conclusions: The online information about gynaecological cancer provided by the most frequently visited webpages is of variable quality and in general difficult to read and understand. The relationship between the quality and readability remains unclear. Healthcare providers should direct their patients to reliable material online since patients consider the Internet as an important source of information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-541
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecological Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


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