Search Trends and Quality of Online Resources Regarding Thyroidectomy

Lena W. Chen, Vandra Chatrice Harris, Justin Lee Jia, Deborah Xingchun Xie, Ralph Patrick Tufano, Jonathon Owen Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Thyroidectomy is one of the most common procedures performed in head and neck surgery. The quality of online resources for thyroidectomy is unknown. We aim to evaluate search trends and online resource quality regarding thyroidectomy. Study Design: Cross-sectional analysis. Setting: Websites appearing on Google search. Methods: The first 30 Google websites for thyroidectomy were reviewed, excluding research, video, and restricted sites. Search patterns were obtained with Google Trends. Quality was measured by readability (Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kinkaid Grade Level), understandability and actionability (Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool), and clinical practice guideline (CPG) compatibility. Fleiss kappa interrater reliability analysis was performed for 2 raters. Results: Twenty-one sites were evaluated. Search popularity for thyroidectomy has increased since 2004. Median reading ease was 42.2 (range, 15.4-62.7) on a scale from 1 to 100, with 100 indicating maximum readability. Median reading grade level was 12 (range, 7-16). Thyroidectomy resources were poorly understandable (median, 66%; range, 21%-88%) and actionable (median, 10%; range, 0%-60%). Median CPG compatibility was 4 out of 5 (range, 0-5). Interrater reliability ranged from substantial to moderate for understandability (0.78), actionability (0.57), and CPG compatibility (0.58), with P <.05 for all results. Conclusion: Online resources about thyroidectomy vary in quality and reliability and are written at grade levels above the average reading level of the public. Providers should be aware of existing resources and work to create education resources that meet universal health literacy guidelines. The framework provided in this article may also serve as a guide and provide tangible steps that providers can take to help patients access care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • google search results
  • otolaryngology
  • patient education materials
  • readability
  • thyroid surgery
  • thyroidectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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