The Value of Web-Based Patient Education Materials on Transarterial Chemoembolization: Systematic Review

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Background: Thousands of web searches are performed related to transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), given its palliative role in the treatment of liver cancer.

Objective: This study aims to assess the reliability, quality, completeness, readability, understandability, and actionability of websites that provide information on TACE for patients.

Methods: The five most popular keywords pertaining to TACE were searched on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. General website characteristics and the presence of Health On the Net Foundation code certification were documented. Website assessment was performed using the following scores: DISCERN, Journal of the American Medical Association, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, Flesch Reading Ease Score, and the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool. A novel TACE content score was generated to evaluate website completeness.

Results: The search yielded 3750 websites. In total, 81 website entities belonging to 78 website domains met the inclusion criteria. A medical disclaimer was not provided on 28% (22/78) of website domains. Health On the Net code certification was present on 12% (9/78) of website domains. Authorship was absent on 88% (71/81) of websites, and sources were absent on 83% (67/81) of websites. The date of publication or of the last update was not listed on 58% (47/81) of websites. The median DISCERN score was 47.0 (IQR 40.5-54.0). The median TACE content score was 35 (IQR 27-43). The median readability grade level was in the 11th grade. Overall, 61% (49/81) and 16% (13/81) of websites were deemed understandable and actionable, respectively. Not-for-profit websites fared significantly better on the Journal of the American Medical Association, DISCERN, and TACE content scores.

Conclusions: The content referring to TACE that is currently available on the web is unreliable, incomplete, difficult to read, understandable but not actionable, and characterized by low overall quality. Websites need to revise their content to optimally educate consumers and support shared decision-making.

Trial registration: PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42020202747; https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/display_record.php?ID=CRD42020202747.

Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma; internet; interventional oncology; interventional radiology; liver cancer; patient education; systematic review; transarterial chemoembolization.