Online resources for shoulder instability: What are patients reading?

Grant H. Garcia, Samuel A. Taylor, Christopher J. Dy, Alexander Christ, Ronak M. Patel, Joshua S. Dines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Background: Evaluations of the medical literature suggest that many online sites provide poor-quality information. The purpose of our study was to investigate the value of online resources for patient education about shoulder instability. Methods: Three search terms ("shoulder instability," "loose shoulder," and "shoulder dislocation") were entered into three Internet search engines. Three orthopaedic residents independently gauged the quality and accuracy of the information with use of a set of predetermined scoring criteria, in addition to noting whether or not four potential surgery options were mentioned. The readability of the web sites was evaluated with use of the Flesch-Kincaid score. Results: Eighty-two unique web sites were evaluated. Quality and accuracy were significantly higher with use of the term "shoulder instability" compared with the term "loose shoulder" (quality, p < 0.001; accuracy, p = 0.001). However, the reading level was significantly more advanced for the "shoulder instability" web sites (p < 0.001). Quality was significantly higher on web sites with reading levels above the eighth grade level (p = 0.001) (88% of web sites). Only twenty-three sites (28%) mentioned surgical options for shoulder instability, and of these, only eight mentioned thermal capsulorrhaphy as a primary treatment. Conclusions: Online information regarding shoulder instability is often inaccurate and/or at an inappropriately high reading level. The quality of information is highly dependent on the specific search term used. Clinicians need to be aware of the information that is available online and should help direct patients to proper sites and guide Internet search terms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e177(1)
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Surgery - American Volume
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2014


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