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Tinnitus information online – does it ring true?

  • R M McKearney (a1) (a2) (a3), R C MacKinnon (a1) (a2) (a4), M Smith (a2) and R Baker (a1)
Abstract
Objective

To assess, using standardised tools, the quality and readability of online tinnitus information that patients are likely to access.

Methods

A standardised review was conducted of websites relating to tinnitus and its management. Each website was scored using the DISCERN instrument and the Flesch Reading Ease scale.

Results

Twenty-seven unique websites were evaluated. The mean DISCERN score of the websites was 34.5 out of 80 (standard deviation = 11.2). This would be considered ‘fair’ in quality. Variability in DISCERN score between websites was high (range, 15–57: ‘poor’ to ‘very good’). Website readability was poor, with a mean Flesch Reading Ease score of 52.6 (standard deviation = 7.7); this would be considered ‘difficult’ to read.

Conclusion

In general, the quality of tinnitus websites is fair and the readability is poor, with substantial variability in quality between websites. The Action on Hearing Loss and the British Tinnitus Association websites were identified as providing the highest quality information.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Author for correspondence: Mr Richard M McKearney, Audiology Department, Guy's Hospital, London, SE1 9RT, UK E-mail: richard.mckearney@nhs.net
Footnotes
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Mr R M McKearney takes responsibility for the integrity of the content of the paper

Footnotes
References
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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology
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