Readability, quality and content of online information for otitis media in English. (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Purpose: This study analysed the readability, quality and content of online information for otitis media (OM) in English.
Method: Seven search terms (“ear infection,” “ear infection symptoms,” “ear infection signs,” “ear pain,” “sore ear,” “ear infection in adults,” and “ear infection treatment”) were entered into 21 country-coded Top-Level Domains (ccTLD) on Google. The first ten webpages that met the inclusion criteria were selected. A selection of webpages was chosen for analysis. The locality and type of organisation for each webpage were recorded. Readability was assessed using the formulas FOG (Gunning Fox Index), SMOG (Simple Measure of Gobbledygook) and F-K (Flesch-Kincaid). Quality was determined by the presence or absence of HON (Health on the Net) code certification. Content was analysed using the DISCERN, PEMAT (Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool) and Plain Language Checklist.
Results: Readability of OM-related online information was high. DISCERN scores showed a ‘below-moderate’ rating. Understandability, actionability, and use of plain language was adequate. There was an uneven distribution of webpages based on types of organisation. There was a significant difference in the DISCERN scores based on types of organisation but no significant difference based on locality. There was no significant difference in the PEMAT scores or plain language scores based on locality or type of organisation.
Conclusions: Improvements in the readability, quality and content should be made by webpage developers and health care professionals to ensure that OM-related online information is beneficial for readers. Education on the condition including its prevalence, causes, and symptoms is critical in making informed treatment choices for individuals themselves or their significant others.
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