Background: Clinical guidelines have conflicting recommendations on the role of prostate artery embolization (PAE), a novel interventional radiology technique used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In the absence of consensus among clinicians, patients may seek information online, where consumer-targeted content has proliferated in recent years. Our objective was to assess the content and quality of online information about prostate artery embolization (PAE). Methods: We evaluated patient interest and exposure to PAE by searching Google Trends for PAE and searching Google for BPH and treatment-related terms. To assess online content about PAE safety and efficacy, we queried Google for patient-oriented websites and YouTube for consumer videos, assessing quality using the validated DISCERN instrument and performing an evidence-based content analysis of how indications, risks, and benefits of PAE were presented. Results: Worldwide searches for PAE peaked in 2019; PAE was mentioned in 15 (26%) of the 57 general BPH-related websites. From our PAE-specific searches, we identified 50 websites and 31 videos. Academic hospitals were the most common sponsor of both PAE-related websites (16, 32%) and videos (15, 48%). Among sources offering PAE to patients, only 15% of websites and 11% of videos explicitly did so as part of a clinical trial. The average DISCERN rating of quality of content was 3.0 out of 5 for websites and 2.0 out of 5 for videos (p < 0.001). Over a quarter of websites and more than half of videos contained potential misinformation, inaccuracies, or non-evidence-based claims about PAE (p = 0.02). Conclusions: Online consumer information about PAE is of low to moderate quality, with a high frequency of non-evidence-based claims. In the absence of guideline consensus about the role of PAE, clinicians should offer shared decision making and evidence-based counseling about the risks and benefits of PAE.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research