Comparison of the source and quality of information on the internet between anterolateral ligament reconstruction and anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: an Australian experience
The internet is a valuable tool, but concerns exist regarding the quality and accuracy of medical information available online.To evaluate the source and quality of information on the internet relating to anterolateral ligament reconstruction (ALLR) compared with anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR).Cross-sectional study.A questionnaire was administered to 50 ACLR patients in Australia to determine their use of the internet to research their operation and their familiarity with the anterolateral ligament (ALL) of the knee. The most common search terms were determined, and the first 70 websites returned by the 5 most popular search engines were used to assess the quality of information about ACLR and ALLR. Each site was categorized by type and was assessed for quality and validity using the DISCERN score, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) benchmark criteria, and a novel specific content score for each procedure. The presence of the Health on the Net Code (HONcode) seal was also recorded.The majority (84%) of ACLR patients used the internet to research their operation. The quality of information available for ALLR was significantly inferior to that for ACLR according to the DISCERN score (37.3 ± 3.4 vs 54.4 ± 4.6; P < .0001) and specific content score (5.3 ± 1.3 vs 11.0 ± 1.5; P < .0001). ACLR websites were predominantly physician produced, while the majority of ALLR websites were academic. In contrast to ACLR websites, the majority of ALLR websites did not provide information on the indication for treatment or potential complications. ALLR websites scored better on the JAMA benchmark criteria due to the predominance of academic websites. A greater proportion of ACLR websites (14.6%) versus ALLR websites (2.5%) provided an HONcode seal. Correlation was demonstrated between the DISCERN score and specific content scores for both ACLR and ALLR but not with JAMA benchmark criteria. The specific content score had high reliability for both ACLR and ALLR.The majority of patients undergoing ACLR in Australia used the internet to research the procedure. The quality of information on the internet relating to ALLR was significantly inferior to information about ACLR. Most ALLR websites failed to include crucial information about the indication or options for treatment, prognosis, and potential complications. Surgeons should be aware of the information to which their patients are exposed through the internet and should be proactive in directing patients to appropriate websites.