Survey of quality, readability, and social reach of websites on osteosarcoma in adolescents

Catherine G. Lam, Debra L. Roter, Kenneth J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective: Little is known about Internet resources for adolescent patients. This study assessed the quality, readability, and social reach of websites on an illustrative adolescent cancer diagnosis, osteosarcoma. Methods: The top 50 results from four queries in two search engines were screened. Quality and readability were determined using standard DISCERN tool, Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kinkaid Grade. Social reach was gauged by social networking links, global website traffic, and a pilot adolescent-specificity measure. Results: Of 400 websites assessed, 56 (14%) met inclusion criteria. Websites' mean quality was fair (49.8 on 75-point scale; range 31.0-66.0, poor to excellent); 86% failed readability standards (Grade > 8); 75% offered at least one social networking link; and 34% offered site-specific social media. More than 60% received over 50,000 visits in the past month. Only 12.5% included adolescent-specific content. Of the 10 websites ranked highest for quality, only one achieved both readability targets and adolescent-specific content. Conclusions: Although some patient-oriented websites on osteosarcoma are of acceptable quality, most failed readability targets, and few appeared to address adolescents. Practice implications: Better awareness of Internet health resources and social media for adolescents with cancer is needed to address gaps, promote health literacy and facilitate patient-provider communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Adolescent
  • Cancer communication
  • Consumer health information
  • Health communication
  • Health literacy
  • Health promotion
  • Internet
  • Social media
  • Supportive care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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