HOLLYWOOD, FLA. — A search of more than 100 Web sites that provide information about labor epidurals yielded very few with reliable information, Dr. Edgar M. Wayne reported in a poster at the annual meeting of the Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology.
Of 117 sites reviewed by two experienced obstetric anesthesiologists using two popular search engines and a Microsoft Accuracy rating tool that was shown to be reliable, only 33 were rated as accurate, and only 13 of those were deemed relevant and acceptable as educational tools for patients. An additional 36 sites were rated as inaccurate, and 33 were rated as misleading, reported Dr. Wayne of the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor.
The remaining 15 were peer-reviewed articles only and were not included in the analysis.
Sites based on information from peer-reviewed sources such as textbooks or journals were significantly more likely to be accurate, relevant, and reliable; inaccurate Web sites were significantly more likely than the others to be based on nonscientific sources such as anecdotes or human interest stories. In addition, the inaccurate sites were more often written or sponsored by special interest groups.
Dr. Wayne emphasized that it is important to direct patients to Web sites that provide accurate, reliable information, because the Internet is widely and increasingly used by patients for medical information and the information they find there could influence them to decline safe and potentially beneficial labor pain management.
Interdisciplinary, hospital-based antepartum educational programs could help address the need for accurate patient education regarding neuraxial labor analgesia, he said.