Background: The Internet is one of the most widely utilized resources for health-related information. Evaluation of the medical literature suggests that the quality and accuracy of these resources are poor and written at inappropriately high reading levels. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the quality, accuracy, and readability of online resources pertaining to hallux valgus.
Methods: Two search terms ("hallux valgus" and "bunion") were entered into Google, Yahoo, and Bing. With the use of scoring criteria specific to hallux valgus, the quality and accuracy of online information related to hallux valgus was evaluated by 3 reviewers. The Flesch-Kincaid score was used to determine readability. Statistical analysis was performed with t tests and significance was determined by P values <.05.
Results: Sixty-two unique websites were evaluated. Quality was significantly higher with use of the search term "bunion" as compared to "hallux valgus" (P = .045). Quality and accuracy were significantly higher in resources authored by physicians as compared to nonphysicians (quality, P = .04; accuracy, P < .001) and websites without commercial bias (quality, P = .038; accuracy, P = .011). However, the reading level was significantly more advanced for websites authored by physicians (P = .035). Websites written above an eighth-grade reading level were significantly more accurate than those written at or below an eighth-grade reading level (P = .032).
Conclusion: The overall quality of online information related to hallux valgus is poor and written at inappropriate reading levels. Furthermore, the search term used, authorship, and presence of commercial bias influence the value of these materials. It is important for orthopaedic surgeons to become familiar with patient education materials, so that appropriate recommendations can be made regarding valuable resources.
Levels of evidence: Level IV.
Keywords: Internet; bunion; great toe; hallux valgus; online search.
© 2015 The Author(s).