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Readability of Online Info About Pancreatic Cancer Varies

Lowest accuracy scores for alternative tx websites; websites with higher accuracy more difficult to read

THURSDAY, May 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The readability and accuracy of online information regarding pancreatic cancer varies, according to a study published online May 4 in JAMA Surgery.

Alessandra Storino, M.D., from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues compared the readability and accuracy of patient-oriented online resources for pancreatic cancer. Fifty websites discussing five pancreatic cancer treatment modalities were searched; the website’s affiliation was identified. The median readability level of each website was computed using nine standardized tests.

The researchers found that the websites varied in terms of readability and accuracy based on the focus of treatment modality and the website’s affiliation. Websites discussing surgery were easier to read than those discussing radiotherapy and clinical trials (median readability level, 13.7 versus 15.2 and 15.2, respectively; P = 0.003 and 0.002, respectively). Websites of nonprofit organizations were easier to read than media and academic websites (median readability level, 12.9 versus 16.0 and 14.8, respectively; both P < 0.001); privately owned websites were easier to read than media websites (median readability level, 14.0 versus 16.0; P = 0.001). The lowest accuracy scores were seen for alternative therapy websites (median accuracy score, 2; P < 0.001). Websites with higher accuracy were more difficult to read than those with lower accuracy.

“In the absence of quality control on the internet, physicians should provide guidance to patients in the selection of online resources with readable and accurate information,” the authors write.

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