Examining the Public’s Most Frequently Asked Questions About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Appraising Online Information About Treatment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is the most common entrapment neuropathy. Patients often search online for health information regarding common musculoskeletal complaints. Thus, the purpose of this study was to use language processing information from Google to assess the content of CTS frequently asked questions (FAQs) searched online and the transparency and quality of online CTS information. Methods: On March 11, 2021, we searched Google for 3 terms “carpal tunnel syndrome treatment,” “carpal tunnel syndrome surgical treatment,” and “carpal tunnel syndrome non-surgical treatment” until a minimum of 100 FAQs and their answer links were extracted from each search. We used Rothwell classification to categorize the FAQs. The Journal of the American Medical Association’s benchmark criteria were used to assess information transparency. Information quality was assessed using the Brief DISCERN tool. Results: Our Google search returned 124 unique FAQs. Fifty-six (45.2%) were value based and most were related to the evaluation of treatment options (45/56, 80.4%). The most common source type was medical practices (26.6%). Nearly half of the answer sources (45.9%) were found to be lacking in transparency. One-way analysis of variance revealed a significant difference in mean Brief DISCERN scores among the 5 source types, F(4, 119) = 5.93, P =.0002, with medical practices averaging the worst score (13.73/30). Conclusions: Patients are most commonly searching Google to gain information regarding CTS treatment options. Online sources such as medical practices should use widely accepted rubrics for ensuring transparency and quality prior to publishing CTS information.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHand
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • anatomy
  • arthroscopy
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • diagnosis
  • hand
  • nerve
  • nerve compression
  • research and health outcomes
  • specialty
  • surgery

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