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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)

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


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.


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.


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.

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

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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
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