Online health information on thyroid nodules: do patients understand them?

CİMBEK E. A., Cimbek A.

MINERVA ENDOCRINOLOGY, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.23736/s2724-6507.23.03952-0
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), MEDLINE
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


BACKGROUND: Given the lack of a previous study assessing understandability and considering there is only one study assessing the readability and quality of online information related to thyroid nodules, we aimed to assess the readability, understandability, and quality of online patient education materials on thyroid nodules. METHODS: Materials were identified through an online search performed by inputting the term "thyroid nodule" into Google. A total of 150 websites were identified, 59 met the inclusion criteria. Websites were classified as academic and hospital (N.=29), physician and clinic (N.=7), organization (N.=12), and health information websites (N.=11). The readability was evaluated using an online system performing a group of validated readability tests. The Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) was utilized to assess the understandability. The quality was evaluated through the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) benchmark criteria. RESULTS: Among all websites, the mean reading grade level was 11.25 +/- 1.88 (range, 8-16), well above the recommended sixth grade reading level (P<0.001). The mean PEMAT Score was 57.4 +/- 14.5% (range, 31-88%). For all groups of types of websites, the understandability score was below 70%. There was no statistical difference between the groups for the average reading grade level or the PEMAT score (P=0.379 and P=0.26, respectively). The average JAMA benchmark score was 1.86 +/- 1.38 (range 0-4), health information-based websites scored the highest (P=0.007). CONCLUSIONS: Online resources on thyroid nodules are written at grade levels above the recommended reading level. Most resources scored poorly using the PEMAT and varied in quality. Future work should focus on developing understandable, high-quality, and grade-level appropriate materials.