Turkish Neurosurgery
Evaluating the Readability, Quality and Reliability of Online Patient Education Materials on Spinal Cord Stimulation
M. Enes Gündüz1, Georgios K. Matis1, Erkan Özduran2, Volkan Hanci3
1University Hospital of Cologne, Department of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, Cologne,
2Dokuz Eylul University Hospital, Departement of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Izmir,
3Dokuz Eylül University Hospital, Departement of Anesthesiology and Reanimation, Izmir,
DOI: 10.5137/1019-5149.JTN.42973-22.3

Aim:Internet usage to obtain health-related information is rapidly increasing. However, there are concerns about the comprehensibility and reliability of internet-accessed health-related information. The aim of this research was to investigate the reliability, quality, and readability of patient education materials (PEMs) about spinal cord stimulation (SCS) on the internet.Material and Methods:A total of 114 websites suitable for the study were identified after a search on Google for the term “spinal cord stimulation.” Gunning Fog (GFOG), Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL), Flesch Reading Ease Score (FRES), and Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) were used to determine the readability of sites. The credibility of the websites was assessed using the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) score. Quality was assessed using the global quality score (GQS),the DISCERN score, and the Health on the Net Foundation code of conduct (HONcode).Results:Evaluating the text sections, the mean SMOG and FKGL were 10.92 ± 1.61 and 11.62 ± 2.11 years, respectively, and the mean FRES and GFOG were 45.32 ± 10.71 and 14.62 ± 2.24 (both very difficult), respectively. Of all the websites, 10.5% were found to be of high quality, 13.2% were found to be of high reliability, and only 6.1% had a HONcode. A significant difference was found between the typologies of the websites and the reliability and quality scores (p < 0.05).Conclusion:The internet-based PEMs about SCS were found to have a readability level that exceeded the Grade 6 level recommended by the National Health Institute. However, the materials demonstrated low reliability and poor quality. We think that websites related to SCS, which is a specific neuromodulation option among several interventional procedures for the management of chronic pain, should have some level of readability according to specific indexes and reliable content suitable for the public’s educational level.

Corresponding author : M. Enes Gündüz