Quality assessment of online hearing-related information in the french language.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Audiology
Purpose: An increasing number of people turn to the Internet for medical information and guidance. Nevertheless, the content quality of health materials varies widely and is generally low. The current study aims to assess the quality of online health information in the French language specific to hearing. This study extends the recent thesis completed in 2018 by former Master of Audiology student Marius Serban.
Method: Fifty-one quasi-randomly selected webpages, previously identified by Serban, were rated and assessed using a quality specific tool: the DISCERN questionnaire. Two native French speakers used the DISCERN instrument to judge the quality of French written health information about treatment choices. The webpages were then categorised and evaluated in terms of their region of origin (Europe and North America), type of organisation (i.e., non-profit, commercial and governmental) and whether they had HON code certification. Descriptive statistics were used to report the obtained quality ratings and an ANOVA was used to determine whether there would be significant differences in DISCERN ratings based on the location of website host, type of organisation and on the presence or absence of HON certification between the identified webpages. Finally, the webpages were assessed and compared in terms of their quality and readability scores using a Pearson correlation.
Results: Overall, the webpages exhibited moderate quality as determined by the DISCERN rating scores. The majority, that is 26 webpages, obtained a DISCERN score between 3.00 and 3.90. Only one webpage earned a DISCERN score of 5.00, and two webpages received a low DISCERN score of 1.50. The webpages were equally distributed by location and type of organisation; however, the majority of the webpages (61%) did not have HON certification. Results show that no significant differences were found in DISCERN scores among webpages based on the region of website host, type of organisation, and on the presence or absence of HON certification. Additionally, there was a positive non-significant relationship between DISCERN and readability scores. Similarly, the readability level of all webpages was higher than the recommended level, indicating at least 13 years of education for the consumers to efficiently read and comprehend the hearing-related information.
Conclusion: The quality and readability of hearing-related information provided on the Internet in the French language are far from optimal. The findings have shown that the majority of the websites available to French readers with a hearing disability, and to their significant others, are well above the reading grade level recommended by health literacy experts and are lacking in quality. Such findings are concerning, as misleading and erroneous online health materials can have a significant impact on the patient’s health. Recommendations have been provided to help clinicians in guiding patients towards satisfactory information and to assist website designers in developing higher quality health-related materials.