Online patient information resources on gout provide inadequate information and minimal emphasis on potentially curative urate lowering treatment.
Objectives To assess the content and readability of online patient information resources against the current understanding of gout. Methods An online survey was undertaken using Google UK, USA, Australia and Canada. Information was assessed for content and accuracy on nineteen key points regarded core content for gout patient information resource. Readability was assessed using Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score. Fifteen randomly selected websites were reviewed by a blinded second observer. Results Eighty-five websites were selected. More than 50% of websites provided no information or had inaccuracies regarding the pathogenesis of gout. Most websites contained infomraiton on dietary and lifestyle modifications for treating gout and did not emphasise urate lowering therapy (ULT) and its potential for "cure". Over 75% websites had no/inaccurate information on the role of ULT or prophylaxis for preventing gout attacks on starting ULT. The majority of websites were difficult to read, with information in 68% websites rated at least fairly difficult. Conclusion Only few web-based patient information resources provide accurate and easy to read information on gout. This study will help physicians direct patients to currently reliable resources, but there is a need to improve many web-based patient information resources which at present act as barriers to care.