Survey of the Effectiveness of Internet Information on Patient Education for Bone Morphogenetic Protein

Meng Huang, Valentina Briceño, Sandi K. Lam, Thomas G. Luerssen, Andrew Jea*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective In light of recent reports of potential short- and long-term complications of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) and increasing "off-label" use among spine surgeons, we wished to analyze online information on BMP and its controversial uses, as patients frequently search the Internet for medical information, even though the quality and accuracy of available information are highly variable. Methods Between December 2014 and January 2015, we conducted a Google search to identify the 50 most accessed websites providing BMP information using the search phrase "bone morphogenetic protein." Websites were classified based on authorship. Each website was examined for the provision of appropriate patient inclusion and exclusion criteria, surgical and nonsurgical treatment alternatives, purported benefits, disclosure of common and potential complications, peer-reviewed literature citations, and discussion of off-label use. Results Two percent of websites were authored by private medical groups, 2% by academic medical groups, 10% by insurance companies, 16% by biomedical industries, 4% by news sources, 0% by lawyers, and 66% by others. Sixty-two percent referenced peer-reviewed literature. Benefits and complications were reported in 44% and 26% of websites, respectively. Surgical and nonsurgical treatment alternatives were mentioned in 16% and 4% of websites, respectively. Discussion of off-label BMP use occurred in 18% of websites. Conclusions Our study showed the ineffectiveness of the Internet in reporting quality information on BMP use. We found that websites authored by insurance companies provide an acceptable foundation for patient education. This, however, cannot replace the need for a thorough dialogue between doctor and patient about risks, benefits, and indications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-618
Number of pages6
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Internet
  • Key words Bone morphogenetic protein
  • Patient education
  • Pediatric spine
  • Spinal instrumentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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