The content and quality of health information available online regarding macular hole surgery

Poster Details

First Author: J.Panthagani UK

Co Author(s):    G. Moussa   T. Hammam                          

Abstract Details


To assess the content and quality of health information available online regarding macular hole surgery.


Not applicable


The first 50 search results for the term ‘macular hole surgery’ on Google were scored using the validated tool DISCERN (10 results per page). This is an instrument designed to help users of consumer health information judge the quality of written information about treatment choices through 16 questions, with a maximum score of 80. Each website was also checked for the presence of The Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct (HONcode), a health information reliability and credibility assurance marker and was evaluated by two independent reviewers. Websites were categorised into academic, social, physician personal website, NHS Group, physician team led health information, charity, hospital based and unspecified. Statistical analysis was performed with SPSS Version 23.0 statistic software package. A Shapiro-Wilk test was done as a test of normality. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to compare several groups.


Fifty distinctive website were analysed. The mean DISCERN score was 35.3 (SD±10.7). The joint highest categories were academic and physicians’ personalised websites (n=12 each, mean 33.0, SD±7.8). The assumption of normality was accepted (p=0.10). The highest scoring website were from the British and Eire Association of Vitreoretinal Surgeons (BEAVRS) and Guy’s and St.Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust both scoring 60. Only 8 (16%) websites had scores greater than 45. The worst performing group was ‘Social’ (n=4, mean 28.0, SD±4.5). There was statistically significant difference between means of DISCERN scores for different types of websites (p = 0.01). Results were also split across the 5 page numbers returned in the Google search. A negative correlation was found between page number and mean DISCERN score (Spearman’s Rank -0.30, p=0.03). The mean DISCERN score was statistically different across page numbers (p=0.05), with the first page having a mean of 43.5 vs the total mean of 35.3). Only one website which had a HONcode certification which had a mean of 35.


The results from this study show that the vast majority of information online is of poor quality with confusing advice. Providing accurate and credible information to patients regarding treatment choices available for macular hole surgery is important for patients to make informed decisions. Patient should be specifically directed to certain websites for this that are formally assessed and appraised. Specific categories of websites are more likely to carry more reliable robust data for macular holes and information quality seems to degrade with increasing page numbers. Further research is required to compare different search engines and help identify the best resources to redirect patients.

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