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Assessment of the Readability and Quality of Online Information for Patients and Their Families Regarding Schizophrenia.

To our knowledge, this is the first study that specifically aims to assess the readability and quality of online information about schizophrenia. The analysis is performed on 93 of 195 websites that appeared in an advanced Google search of the term "schizophrenia" performed on a single day. The websites were categorized as commercial, nonprofit, professional, and government. The websites were evaluated using the Health on the Net Foundation (HON) code certificate, DISCERN tool, and Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) benchmark criteria for quality and the Flesch Reading Ease Formula, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL) Formula, Simple Measure of Gobbledygook, and Gunning Fog indices for readability. A total of 21.5% of all websites had a HON code certificate, 50.5% were accepted as high quality (JAMA score ≥3), and 25.8% reached the recommended readability level (FKGL ≤8). Only three websites scored at a fifth- to sixth-grade reading level. Commercial and government websites had significantly lower DISCERN scores. Commercial websites had significantly lower Flesch Reading Ease Score and FKGL score than nonprofit websites. In conclusion, the current findings indicate that the quality of online information on schizophrenia is generally acceptable, but the readability is insufficient. Website creators, physicians, and health authorities should be more sensitive to the readability of online information about schizophrenia, considering the poor cognitive capacity of the patients and the unique nature of the disease.

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