Ng, J.Y., Nayeni, M. & Gilotra, K. | 2021| Quality of complementary and alternative medicine information for type 2 diabetes: a cross-sectional survey and quality assessment of websites| BMC Complement Med Ther | 21 | 233| https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03390-3
This study addresses a gap in the literature, it set out to identify and assess the quality of consumer health information presented online for CAM-specific treatment and/or management options for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). They report that their subset contained low quality consumer health information; noting that the websites included for assessment often failed to provide adequate references to support their health statements (Ng, Nayeni, & Gilotra, 2021).
The global prevalence of diabetes mellitus is projected to reach approximately 700 million by the year 2045, with roughly 90–95% of all diabetes cases being type 2 in nature. Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) frequently seek information about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) online. This study assessed the quality of publicly accessible websites providing consumer health information at the intersection of T2DM and CAM.
An online search engine (Google) was searched to identify pertinent websites containing information specific to CAM for T2DM patients, and the relevant websites were then screened with an eligibility criteria. Consumer health information found on eligible websites were then assessed for quality using the DISCERN instrument, a 16-item standardized scoring system.
Across the 480 webpages identified, 94 unique webpages remained following deduplication, and 37 eligible webpages belonged to and were collapsed into 30 unique websites that were each assessed using the DISCERN instrument. The mean overall quality score (question 16) across all 30 assessed websites was 3.55 (SD = 0.86), and the mean summed DISCERN score was 52.40 (SD = 12.11). Eighty percent of websites presented a wide range of CAM treatment options with the associated benefits/risks of each treatment, but in 56.7% of the websites, the sources used to collect information were unreliable.
This study identified, assessed, and presents findings on the quality of online CAM information for T2DM. Although there were several high scoring websites, there was variability across most of the individual DISCERN items in the assessed websites. This study highlights the importance of awareness among healthcare providers regarding the reliability of online information about CAM treatment and management options for T2DM. Healthcare providers should be aware of patients’ information seeking behaviour, guide them in navigating through the content they encounter online, and provide them with resources containing trustworthy and reliable information.