This study aimed to determine the type, accuracy and content of information available on the internet regarding head and neck cancer.
The search engine Google was used to generate a list of the top 100 websites about head and neck cancer. The websites were evaluated using the DISCERN instrument and the JAMA benchmarks and whether the site displayed the Health on the Net seal was also recorded.
The search yielded 1,650,000 sites on the Google website. Of the top 100 sites, a total of 33 sites were suitable for analysis due to duplicate links, non-functioning links and irrelevant website. 45% achieved all four JAMA benchmarks and 18% achieved only 1 benchmark. No website receiving the maximum mark on the overall score and four websites received the lowest overall score regarding the DISCERN instrument. The question with the poorest response score was 'Does it describe how the treatment choices affect overall quality of life?'. 39% of the websites displayed the Health on the Net (HON) seal.
A wide variety of types of information are available on the internet regarding head and neck cancer with variable accuracy levels based on both Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) benchmarks and DISCERN. The onus lies with the practitioner to guide the patient regarding scientific reliability of information and to direct the patient in filtering the information sourced. The inclusion of quality of life related information is currently lacking and should be addressed to ensure a more comprehensive understanding for patients of treatment options. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.