Background:Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects up to 19.2 million Americans, and untreated kidney disease can progress to kidney failure. Patient education is an important part of slowing disease progression, but the ability of health professionals to provide this education is limited by time constraints. To date, there have been no systematic evaluations of CKD eHealth Web sites. Methods:Seven nonproprietary and 4 proprietary Web sites geared toward educating patients with CKD were identified by using the Internet to search for the terms "chronic kidney disease," "kidney disease," and "chronic renal failure." Web sites were evaluated according to (1) compliance with the principles of the Health on the Net (HON) Foundation Code of Conduct and (2) reading grade level. Results:Nonproprietary sites were in compliance with an average of 5.2 principles, with a range of 3 to 8. Average compliance of proprietary Web sites with the HON Code of Conduct principles was 3.12, with a range of 2 to 4 (P = 0.021). Of nonproprietary Web sites, average reading grade level assessed by the Fry Readability Scale was greater than grade 14, with a range from grade 11 through graduate school. Of proprietary sites, average readability was grade 11, with a range from grades 7 through 16 (P = 0.575). Conclusion:The Internet has the potential to be a very powerful educational tool for patients with CKD. However, many easily accessed CKD public health Web sites do not comply with accepted standards for health Web sites and are written using language beyond the general public's reading comprehension. © 2004 by the National Kidney Foundation, Inc.
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