Date: Sunday, November 8, 2015
Session Type: ACR Poster Session A
Session Time: 9:00AM-11:00AM
Background/Purpose: Considering rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease that lasts for decades, patient education is of upmost importance. RA patients seeking information on the web has been exponential during the last 15 years. The aim of this study was to assess the content, authorship, and scope of the information currently available on the internet in relation to this topic and compare it with a report published in 2001*.
Methods: Two internet search engines were used to perform the task: WebCrawler, to replicate the referent study published in 2001*, and Google, since it is now the most widely used search engine. We conducted the search using the phrase “rheumatoid arthritis” as an average patient would do. Information was evaluated from the first 30 pages of each search carried out. All the websites that were used to collect data from were critically assessed afterwards in relation to relevance, scope, authorship, type of publication, and financial objectives. Significant differences were assumed if 95% confidence intervals did not overlap between referent and current studies.
Results: The search returned 316 hits using WebCrawler (85% considered relevant). We found significant differences between the referent study* and ours. There was a decrease in; advertisements (48% vs. 2%), hits posted by profit industries (51% vs. 18%), financial interest regarding “primary sold products” (42% vs. 9%), and promoting alternative therapies (45% vs. 27%). While an increase was noted in; “mainly RA information” (8% vs. 58%), support groups (<1% vs. 6%) and discussing “conventional treatment” (8% vs. 49%). University and/or hospital owned Web pages remained unchanged (5% vs. 8%).
Regarding Google, the search returned 326 hits, and when compared with our WebCrawler search we found significant differences: lower relevance (58% vs. 85%), more news articles (17% vs 7%), more “only RA discussed” (73% vs. 58%), and less “alternative therapy” (18% vs. 27%). Concerning Universities and hospitals providing information for patients, the proportion is almost the same (7% vs. 8%). Yet Mayo Clinic appeared in the 1st position, Arthritis Foundation in the 3rd position, the American College of Rheumatology in the 8th position, Johns Hopkins in the 21st position, UCSF in the 77th position, and Washington University in the 197thposition.
Conclusion: It seems that surfing the net is in some ways more reliable and trustworthy now, for RA patients, than it was 15 years ago, with significantly less advertisements and less focus on only alternative therapies. Yet there is a window of opportunity for rheumatology centers and universities to have a more prominent social involvement in patient education for rheumatic diseases.
*Suarez-Almazor et al. Surfing the Net–information on the World Wide Web for persons with arthritis: patient empowerment or patient deceit? J Rheumatol 2001;28:185-91
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Valdivia-Nuno JDJ, Brambila-Barba V, Hernandez-Sanchez L, Castaneda-Sanchez JJ, Gallegos-Rios C, Flores-Hernandez G, Suarez-Rico A, Barajas-Ochoa Z, Garagarza-Mariscal H, Ramirez-Gomez A, Castillo-Ortiz JD, Ramos-Remus C. Surfing the Net: Patient Empowerment or Patient Deceit? Fifteen-Year Trends on the World Wide Web Information for Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015; 67 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/surfing-the-net-patient-empowerment-or-patient-deceit-fifteen-year-trends-on-the-world-wide-web-information-for-patients-with-rheumatoid-arthritis/. Accessed August 9, 2020.
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