Internet-Based Resources Frequently Provide Inaccurate and Out-of-Date Recommendations on Preoperative Fasting: A Systematic Review.

Roughead, T. et al. Anesthesia & Analgesia. Published online: September 16 2016

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Preoperative fasting is important to avoid morbidity and surgery delays, yet recommendations available on the Internet may be inaccurate. Our objectives were to describe the characteristics and recommendations of Internet resources on preoperative fasting and assess the quality and readability of these websites.

We searched the Internet for common search terms on preoperative fasting using Google(R) search engines from 4 English-speaking countries (Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom). We screened the first 30 websites from each search and extracted data from unique websites that provided recommendations on preoperative fasting. Website quality was assessed using validated tools (JAMA Benchmark criteria, DISCERN score, and Health on the Net Foundation code [HONcode] certification). Readability was scored using the Flesch Reading Ease score and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

A total of 87 websites were included in the analysis. A total of 48 websites (55%) provided at least 1 recommendation that contradicted established guidelines. Websites from health care institutions were most likely to make inaccurate recommendations (61%). Only 17% of websites encouraged preoperative hydration. Quality and readability were poor, with a median JAMA Benchmark score of 1 (interquartile range 0-3), mean DISCERN score 39.8 (SD 12.5), mean reading ease score 49 (SD 15), and mean grade level of 10.6 (SD 2.7). HONcode certification was infrequent (10%). Anesthesia society websites and scientific articles had higher DISCERN scores but worse readability compared with websites from health care institutions.

Online fasting recommendations are frequently inconsistent with current guidelines, particularly among health care institution websites. The poor quality and readability of Internet resources on preoperative fasting may confuse patients.

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