How evidence-based is online information for patients? Analysis of orthodontic websites for accuracy of content compared to systematic review findings




Poster session 3 Friday: Evidence Tools / Evidence synthesis - creation, publication and updating in the digital age


Friday 15 September 2017 - 12:30 to 14:00


All authors in correct order:

Mulimani P1, Abas AB1
1 Melaka Manipal Medical College, Malaysia
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author:

Priti Mulimani

Contact person:

Abstract text
Background:With quick and unfiltered access to omnipresent online information, it is very easy for patients to become either well-informed or misinformed. Orthodontics being at the cutting edge of dental specialties, is often marketed to patients using online media. The accuracy of the content and the extent to which the information on these websites is based on best-available evidence or systematic reviews remains unknown.

Objectives: To assess the degree of distortion of online websites providing information related to orthodontics.

Methods: We divided orthodontic-related information relevant for patients into 5 domains – 1) effects of malocclusion; 2) benefits of treatment; 3) advantages of advocated treatment method; 4) superiority over other methods; and, 5) avoiding undesirable outcomes. We gathered the current evidence-based information on these domains by conducting a search of Pubmed, CDSR and top 5 international orthodontic journals, for systematic reviews. We then searched google using the terms 'orthodontics' or 'braces' and scrutinised the information in the first 100 websites of the search results. Assessment of whether their content was in line with the systematic review findings which we had gathered, was recorded using a scale for degree of distortion.

Results: The Google search yielded more than 8 million hits. The 100 websites that were assessed consisted of a mix of orthodontic product manufacturers, orthodontic societies, orthodontic practices and blogs or informational websites on orthodontics. We found that the degree of distortion was least among information provided by official orthodontic society websites and the greatest deviation from evidence was found in orthodontic products’ manufacturers websites. Treatment effects, speed of treatment and deleterious effects of malocclusion were the aspects which were most over-estimated. More details of the statistics and analysis will be revealed on the poster.

Conclusions:A high degree of deviation from evidence-based facts exists in online orthodontic websites, which needs to countered by dissemination of the accurate facts.