King J1, Baharoon H2, Dumont K1, Haddad N1, Serresse C1, Tanner E1
1University of Ottawa, Physiotherapy Program, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ottawa, Canada, 2University of Ottawa, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ottawa, Canada

Background: Patient education geared towards chronic disease self-management is an important part of care that physiotherapists provide to people living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). With the advent of online patient education resources available to people living with COPD, more and more patients are using these resources as a source of patient education in addition to the patient education they receive from physiotherapists. Currently there is little known about the quality of these online resources.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate websites available to the general public regarding COPD. The overall research question was “What is the quality of online patient education resources for people living with COPD?”

Methods: Following an established method of website evaluation (Alsaiari, 2016 and Kaicker 2010) which includes purposefully sampling common websites from different types of organisations (i.e. national lung associations), 20 websites were independently evaluated by two reviewers using the DISCERN tool (Charnock, 1999) and the CRAAP (Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose) test (Blakesee, 2004). These standardized website evaluation tools include criteria related to credibility, accuracy, biases, and conflicts of interest.

Results: In using the DISCERN and CRAAP test to evaluate the websites, it was determined that the majority of websites were successful in having content that is relevant to people living with COPD. Information regarding COPD was balanced and unbiased and it was often clear that there is more than one possible treatment choice for COPD. The information found on these websites was generally up-to-date and content was written at an appropriate level for patients and their families. In contrast, many websites failed to clarify their aims, describe what would happen if no treatment is used to treat COPD and did not describe the benefits and risks of each treatment. Perhaps most importantly, more than half of the evaluated websites failed to provide supporting research evidence for their claims.

Conclusion(s): There are varying quality levels of online patient education resources available to people living with COPD. Although the evaluated websites appear to contain reliable, unbiased information, many fail to identify their aims or refer to areas of uncertainty or provide research evidence.

Implications: Physiotherapists should be cognisant of the varying quality levels of online patient education resources available to people living with COPD. Results of this study provide physiotherapists with guidance on how to recommend quality patient education websites to patients including the criteria that both physiotherapists and patients need to use to evaluate online resources.

Keywords: COPD, patient education, online

Funding acknowledgements: none

Topic: Cardiorespiratory; Education; Information management, technology & big data

Ethics approval required: No
Institution: University of Ottawa
Ethics committee: Health Sciences
Reason not required: Ethical approval is not required in Canada to conduct research that does not involve humans/animals.

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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