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Il Giornale di Chirurgia

Does the Internet provide patients or clinicians with useful information regarding faecal incontinence? An observational study

Original Article, 71 - 76
doi: 11138/gchir/2018.39.2.071
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Abstract
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Background. The Internet has become an important platform for information communication. This study aim to investigate the utility of social media and search engines to disseminate faecal incontinence information.
Methods. We looked into Social media platforms and search engines. There was not a direct patient recruitment and any available information from patients was already on public domain at the time of search. A quantitative analysis of types and volumes of information regarding faecal incontinence was made.
Results. Twelve valid pages were identified on Facebook: 5 (41%) pages were advertising commercial incontinence products, 4 (33%) pages were dedicated to patients support groups and 3 (25%) pages provided healthcare information. Also we found 192 Facebook posts. On Twitter, 2890 tweets were found of which 51% tweets provided healthcare information; 675 (45%) were sent by healthcare professionals to patients, 530 tweets (35.3%) were between healthcare professionals, 201 tweets (13.4%) were from medical journals or scientific books and 103 tweets (7%) were from hospitals or clinics with information about events and meetings. The second commonest type of tweets was advertising commercial incontinence products 27%.
Patients tweeted to exchange information and advice between themselves (20.5%). In contrast, search engines as Google/Yahoo/Bing had a higher proportion of healthcare information (over 70%).
Conclusion. Internet appears to have potential to be a useful platform for patients to learn about faecal incontinence and share information; however, given one lack of focus of available data, patients may struggle to identify valid and useful information

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