Purpose This study evaluates the quality of information available on the internet for carers of children with epilepsy considering treatment with Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS). Methods Selected key phrases were entered into two popular search engines (Google™, Yahoo™). These phrases were: “Vagus nerve stimulator”, alone and in combination with “childhood epilepsy”, “paediatric epilepsy” and “epilepsy in childhood”; “VNS”, and “VNS epilepsy”. The first 50 hits per search were then screened. Of 600 identified sites, duplicated (262), irrelevant (230) and inaccessible (15) results were excluded. 93 websites were identified for evaluation using the DISCERN instrument, an online validation tool for patient information websites. Results The mean DISCERN score of all analysed websites was 39/80 (49%; SD 13.5). This equates to Fair to borderline Poor global quality, (Excellent = 80–63; Good = 62–51; Fair = 50–39; Poor = 38–27; Very poor = 26–15). None of the analysed sites obtained an Excellent quality rating. 13% (12) obtained a Good score, 40% (37) obtained an Average score, 35% (33) obtained a Poor score, and 12% (11) obtained a Very poor score. The cohort of websites scored particularly poorly on assessment of whether reliable, holistic information was presented, for instance provision of reliable sources, (28%, SD 18) and discussion of alternative treatments, (30%, SD 14). Conclusion To facilitate patient-centred shared decision-making, high quality information needs to be available for patients and families considering VNS. This study identifies that such information is difficult to locate on the internet. There is a need to develop focussed and reliable online patient resources for VNS.
Ved, R., Cobbold, N., Igbagiri, K., Willis, M., Leach, P., & Zaben, M. (2017). Online patient information on Vagus Nerve Stimulation: How reliable is it for facilitating shared decision making? Seizure, 50, 125–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2017.06.009