Do Websites Serve Our Patients Well? A Comparative Analysis of Online Information on Cosmetic Injectables

Anooj A. Patel, Chitang Joshi, Jeffrey Varghese, Abbas M. Hassan, Jeffrey E. Janis, Robert D. Galiano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Patients access online cosmetic health information to help with decision making. This information is unregulated, variable in quality, and may be biased. This study compared the most popular cosmetic injectables websites to assess their readability, quality, and technical performance. Methods: A Google search for "Botox" (botulinum toxin type A) and "fillers" was performed in July of 2020, identifying the most popular health information websites. Sites were analyzed for their readability and quality of health information using the validated DISCERN criteria and the Health on the Net Foundation Code of Conduct principles. Technical qualities were evaluated using two website performance algorithms, WooRank and WebsiteGrader. Results: Eighty-five websites were analyzed (13 academic/hospital websites, seven commercial websites, 25 private practice board-certified websites, seven private practice not-board-certified websites, 16 online health reference websites, and 17 other websites). The mean readability consensus score was 11 (eleventh grade reading level). The mean DISCERN quality scores were higher for online health reference websites compared to academic/hospital websites (p = 0.045), commercial websites (p = 0.045), private practice board-certified websites (p < 0.001), and private practice not-board-certified websites (p =.002). No correlation between a website's rank and its DISCERN score was found (ρ = -0.07; p = 0.49). Conclusions: Cosmetic injectable websites are too difficult to read by the sixth grade standard recommended by the National Institutes of Health and the American Medical Association. Online health reference sites are higher in quality than physician sites. This has implications for the ability of many patients to be fully informed consumers. The readability, quality, and technical aspects of websites may affect the overall accessibility of patient health information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)655E-668E
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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