Increasing number of patients engages in health information seeking via the Internet. We aimed to determine the quality of information on Internet for treatment of three common neurosurgical conditions associated with lower back pain using the DISCERN® instrument.Material and Methods:
The search phrases lumbar disc herniation treatment, lumbar spinal stenosis treatment and lumbar spondylolisthesis treatment were searched in the Google® search engine using simple searching method. The first 30 websites were evaluated for website authors (healthcare, news, personal, physician, and unidentified), and DISCERN® scores using 15 key questions representing a separate quality criterion plus an overall quality rating. Each site was scored independently by two observers.Results:
Of 90 links retrieved, a total of 83 websites were used for analysis. The physician authors ranked first (39.3%) in the search results. Only 3.6% websites had clear aims, and the information was relevant in 6%. Seventy-two (86.7%) websites had no sources of evidence for the information mentioned. The information was completely balanced and unbiased in only 8 (9.6%) websites. Fifty-one (61.5%) websites had no described benefits for any of the treatments and only 2 (2.4%) websites described a risk for each treatment. Only 6 (7.2%) websites were found to be a useful and appropriate source of information about treatment choices. The DISCERN scores was not significantly different between all author groups (p=0.713).Conclusion:
The information on treatment options of LDH, LSS and LSL on Internet is not a useful or appropriate source of information about treatment choices. Neurosurgeons should be aware of this inconsistency.