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Usefulness, completeness, and accuracy of Web sites providing information on osteoarthritis in dogs

Carl T. JehnDepartment of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Deborah E. PerzakDepartment of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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James L. CookComparative Orthopaedic Laboratory, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.

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Spencer A. JohnstonDepartment of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

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Rory J. TodhunterDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

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Steven C. BudsbergDepartment of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

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Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the quality of information regarding osteoarthritis (OA) in dogs currently available on the World Wide Web.

Design—Survey study.

Procedure—5 search engines were searched with the keywords "dog," "degenerative joint disease," "canine," and "osteoarthritis," and the first 50 sites listed by each search engine were analyzed. Unique Web site addresses were distributed to 3 diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, who provided a standardized evaluation of each site.

Results—30 unique Web sites were evaluated. Twenty (66%) provided information consistent with conventional knowledge as outlined in textbooks and peer-reviewed literature, 8 (27%) provided experimental or anecdotal information in addition to conventional knowledge, and 2 (7%) provided misleading information. Mean scores for overall usefulness of the information provided in regard to clinical features of and treatment for OA were 1.3 and 1.5, respectively (1 = information of minimal use; 5 = very useful information). Twenty-three (77%) sites encouraged pet owners to seek the advice of a veterinarian. Twenty-three (77%) sites were given overall quality scores < 2, and 7 (23%) were given scores between 2 and 3 (1 = site was counterproductive; 5 = site was very valuable).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that the quality of information currently available on the Web that addresses OA in dogs is questionable. Although most of the sites conveyed some conventional information with reasonable accuracy, the information was incomplete, of minimal use, and often considered counterproductive. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:1272–1275)

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the quality of information regarding osteoarthritis (OA) in dogs currently available on the World Wide Web.

Design—Survey study.

Procedure—5 search engines were searched with the keywords "dog," "degenerative joint disease," "canine," and "osteoarthritis," and the first 50 sites listed by each search engine were analyzed. Unique Web site addresses were distributed to 3 diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, who provided a standardized evaluation of each site.

Results—30 unique Web sites were evaluated. Twenty (66%) provided information consistent with conventional knowledge as outlined in textbooks and peer-reviewed literature, 8 (27%) provided experimental or anecdotal information in addition to conventional knowledge, and 2 (7%) provided misleading information. Mean scores for overall usefulness of the information provided in regard to clinical features of and treatment for OA were 1.3 and 1.5, respectively (1 = information of minimal use; 5 = very useful information). Twenty-three (77%) sites encouraged pet owners to seek the advice of a veterinarian. Twenty-three (77%) sites were given overall quality scores < 2, and 7 (23%) were given scores between 2 and 3 (1 = site was counterproductive; 5 = site was very valuable).

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that the quality of information currently available on the Web that addresses OA in dogs is questionable. Although most of the sites conveyed some conventional information with reasonable accuracy, the information was incomplete, of minimal use, and often considered counterproductive. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223:1272–1275)