The quality of online information for an uncommon malignancy—neuroendocrine tumours (Nets)

Safa Sohail, Victoria Zuk, Thorvardur Halfdanarson, Dadvid Chan, Sharon Pattison, Ravleen Vasdev, Calvin Law, Julie Hallet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Patient information is critical in shared decision-making and patient-centred management for neuroendocrine tumours (NETs). Most adults search the internet for health issues, with over half considering such information to be credible. Therefore, we evaluated the quality of online information on NETs. Methods: Searching for “Neuroendocrine Tumours”, the top 20 websites from Google and top 10 from Yahoo and Bing were identified. Open-access websites written in English were included. Websites indicated as advertisements or directed towards healthcare providers were excluded. Each website was evaluated using the JAMA benchmarks, DISCERN instrument, and the Health on the Internet (HONCode) seal by two independent reviewers. Results: We included 16 unique websites after removing duplicates. Four were education pages from healthcare institutions, 10 were Cancer Society pages, and 2 were general information pages. The average score for JAMA benchmarks was 2.3, with 19% of websites receiving the highest score of 4. Specifically, 31% met the benchmark for authorship, 69% for attribution, 94% for disclosure, and 44% for currency. The average score for the DISCERN instrument was 46.5, with no website achieving the maximum of 80 points. The HONCode seal was present in 3 out of 16 websites (18%). Conclusions: We identified major issues with the quality of online information for NETs using validated instruments. The majority of websites identified through common search engines are low-quality. Patients should be informed of the limited quality of online information on NETs. High-quality online information is needed to ensure that patients can avoid misinformation and actively participate in their care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-846
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Carcinoid
  • Neuroendocrine
  • Online information
  • Patient education
  • Quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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