Many patients diagnosed with cancer search for health information on the Web. We aimed to assess the quality and reliability of online health information on prostate cancer. Google, Yahoo, and Bing were searched for the term "prostate cancer." After selecting the most frequented websites, quality was measured by DISCERN score, JAMA benchmark criteria, and presence of HONcode certification. Popularity was assessed by Alexa tool, while accessibility, usability, and reliability were investigated by LIDA tool. Readability was analyzed by Flesch-Kincaid Reading Grade Level and Automated Readability Index. All 13 selected websites were rated as being of high quality according to the DISCERN instrument (76.5 ± 2.6 out of 80 points). JAMA benchmark criteria were fulfilled by 87 % of websites, whereas only 37 % were certified by the HONcode. Median Alexa Traffic Rank was 2718 ranging from 7 to 679,038. Websites received 2.3 ± 0.5 daily pageviews per visitor and users spent an average of 2 min 58 s ± 39 sec on the website. Accessibility (92 ± 5 %) and usability (92 ± 3 %) scores were high and reliability (88 ± 8 %) moderate according to the LIDA tool. Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level was 7.9 ± 2.2, and Automated Readability Index was 7.5 ± 2.4, rating the websites as fairly difficult to read. In conclusion, quality, accessibility, and usability of websites on prostate cancer provided a high rating in the current analysis. These findings are encouraging in view of the growing frequency of patients' access of health information online.
Keywords: Consumer health information; Decision making; Health services research; Internet; Prostatic neoplasms.