To evaluate the readability, content, and quality of internet information about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Three major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) were used to retrieve the first 200 hits for the term “sleep apnea.” The website contents were assessed using established guidelines, while the website quality was evaluated using the validated DISCERN instrument and Journal of the American Medical Association benchmarks.
In total, 243 websites met the inclusion criteria for this study. The websites were divided into five categories: scientific resource, foundation, news/ media report, commercial website, and personal commentary. The mean Flesch-Kincaid grade level, which indicated the readability of the websites, was 7.5. The quality of most websites was poor, with news/media reports and commercial websites exhibiting poorer quality than the others. The Health On the Net (HON) code, which certifies the reliability and credibility of online content regarding human health, was applied only to 14.3% websites; the reliability of all these websites was poor. The content score for the diagnosis and management of OSA was lower for news/media reports and commercial websites than for scientific resources. News/media reports exhibited the worst content scores.
Our findings suggest that most online health resources regarding OSA are not reliable and are inaccurate. Health care providers should be aware of the high variability in online information concerning OSA.
A commentary on this article appears in this issue on page 1643.
Lee J, Ban WH, Park HK, Na E, Kim SK, Kang HH, Lee SH. Accuracy and reliability of internet resources providing information on obstructive sleep apnea. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(10):1717–1723.