The Disparity Between Public Utilization and Surgeon Awareness of the STS Patient Education Website

Robbin G. Cohen, S. Ram Kumar, Jules Lin, Rishindra M. Reddy, Lauren Kane, Jennifer Bagley, Armando Juarez, Fernando Fleischman, Emily A. Farkas, Amy E. Hackmann, Kendra J. Grubb, Seenu Reddy, Loretta Erhunmwunsee, Nestor R. Villamizar, Muhammad F. Masood, Melissa Griffin, Natalie Boden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Many online resources currently provide healthcare information to the public. In 2015, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) created a multimedia web portal ( to educate the public regarding cardiothoracic surgery and provide an informative tool to which cardiothoracic surgeons could refer patients. Methods: A patient education task force was created, and disease-specific content was created for 25 pathological conditions. After launching the website online, a marketing campaign was initiated to make STS members aware of its availability. Website visits were monitored, and an online survey for public users was created. An email survey was sent to STS members to evaluate awareness and content. Surveys were analyzed for effectiveness and utilization by both public users and STS member surgeons. Results: From 2016 to 2018, the website had more than 1 million visits, with visits increasing yearly. Surveyed user ratings of the website were positive regarding quality and utility of the information provided. STS member response was poor (379 responses of 6347 emails), and 78.3% of responders were unaware of the website. Surgeon responders were positive about the content, though many still refrain from referring patients. Conclusions: Online education for cardiothoracic surgery is seeing increased public use, with high ratings for content and utility. Despite aggressive marketing to STS members, most remain unaware of this website's existence. Those who are aware approve of its content, but adoption of referring patients to it has been slow. Improved strategies are necessary to make surgeons aware of this STS-provided service and increase patient referrals to it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-289
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2020


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