How Reliable is the Information in the Internet on Atopic Dermatitis?

Petek Uzay Çetinkaya
Hakan Güvenir
Erol Çetinkaya
Can Naci Kocabaş

Abstract

Objective: The Internet is a very widely used information source and frequently used to obtain information about health, in particular. The aim of this study was to investigate, with reference to the international guidelines, the contents of Turkish web pages, prepared to provide information about atopic dermatitis (AD).

Materials and Methods: The web sites evaluated in this study were obtained through the search engine http://www.google.com. tr/, using the keywords atopic dermatitis and eczema. Sites were classified according to their source and were examined in terms of definition, diagnostic methods, and treatment recommendations with reference to the international guidelines.

Results: In the analysis according to source, most of the pages (29%) were blog/forum pages, prepared by unknown persons, and personal physician pages (22%). While the proportion of sites with video information was 6%, the proportion of social networking sites was 2%. In the analysis according to their content, complete and accurate information in terms of diagnosis and treatment of AD were found in child health and disease and child allergy and immunology specialist personal pages, the page of associations and the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia. While the most accurate treatment approaches were non-pharmacological treatment (17%) and prophylactic treatment (25%), topical medications were defined in an insufficient number of sites. The number of sites with proposals of alternative medicine was found to be quite high (28%).

Conclusion: Despite the large number of Internet sites providing information on atopic dermatitis, many sites were not based on medical resources, and there was a lot of content that was incomplete or incorrect, mainly involving reviews by users. We believe that Internet sites need to be reviewed for their content and the existing information needs to be improved in terms of reliability and timeliness.

Keywords

Atopic dermatitis, eczema, internet, Google
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