Patient-Focused Websites Related to Postpartum Pelvic Floor Health: A DISCERN Quality Analysis

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Article, Peer-reviewed

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Objective: The aim of the study was to evaluate the quality of patient-focused websites addressing postpartum pelvic floor health.

Methods: The Google search engine was used to perform a search of the following 3 terms: (1) "postpartum pelvic floor (PPF)," (2) "postpartum leaking urine (PLU)," and (3) "postpartum leaking stool (PLS)." The top 20 results from each search term were evaluated using the DISCERN quality appraisal tool and Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) benchmark criteria by 2 independent researchers. Websites were also categorized by type. Cohen κ was performed to determine interrater reliability between reviewers. The Kruskal-Wallis test was used to evaluate the differences in DISCERN and JAMA criteria scores.

Results: The weighted mean κ between the investigators for each search term was κ = 0.47 (range = 0.163 [PPF] to 0.759 [PLU]), suggesting moderate agreement between reviewers. There was a significant difference in mean DISCERN scores between the terms, with "postpartum leaking urine" yielding the highest mean score. When comparing DISCERN scores by category, society- and government-sponsored websites (mean = 55 ± 13) scored significantly higher than other categories. Using JAMA criteria, mean scores ranged between 1.83 and 2.83/4, but there were no significant differences between websites.

Conclusions: The overall quality of health information available on the internet regarding postpartum pelvic health is low. Higher-quality search results are found within society- and government-sponsored websites as well as under the search term "postpartum leaking urine." It is important for health care providers to guide their patients to websites with reliable information about postpartum pelvic floor recovery.