Background: The enormous amount of unmonitored medical information on the Internet prompted this investigation into the quality of pediatric surgery information on the Internet. Methods: The Internet was searched for information on diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), abdominal wall defects (AWD), pediatric inguinal hernia (IH), and pectus excavatum (PE). Websites were characterized, classified, and evaluated for completeness, accuracy and bias toward or against the medical profession. Results: A total of 141 websites were evaluated (N(CDH) = 37, N(AWD) = 49, N(IH) = 26, N(PE) = 29). A total of 59.6% targeted medical professionals, and 46.8% targeted the lay population. A total of 58.2% described symptoms and diagnosis. Etiology, pathology, surgery, postoperative course, and prognosis each were addressed by under 40%. A total of 58.2% were accountable for the information presented. A total of 93.1% were incomplete, 75.7% contained accurate information, and 97.7% were positive or neutral toward medical treatment. Among diagnoses, CDH had the highest percentage of websites owned by academic institutions. PE had the highest percentage of websites owned by lay people. PE websites also were the least accurate. Conclusions: Internet information on pediatric surgery varies significantly in quality. Lay people own most websites targeted at the lay audience, and the information may not reflect the opinions of most pediatric surgeons. Increasing use of the Internet by parents seeking medical information warrants an organized approach to ensure complete and accurate information online. Copyright (C) 2000 by W.B. Saunders Company.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health