The content and accessibility of spine surgery fellowship websites and the North American Spine Surgery (NASS) fellowship directory

Erik B. Gerlach, Mark A. Plantz*, Peter R. Swiatek, Nicholas C. Arpey, Colin K. Cantrell, Srikanth N. Divi, Wellington K. Hsu, Alpesh A. Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: The North American Spine Society (NASS) spine fellowship directory is an established resource that provides applicants with access to important information about different fellowship programs. Additionally, some programs have created websites to provide information about their fellowship program. There has been limited research on the amount and breadth of information provided by these different resources. PURPOSE: To assess and compare the scope of information provided by the North American Spine Society (NASS) fellowship directory and individual fellowship program websites. STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: Web Content Accessibility Study. PATIENT SAMPLE: There were no patient data used in this study. All reported data were accessed from public websites and the NASS fellowship directory (August 2022 fellowships). OUTCOME MEASURES: Outcome measures were reported as the presence or lack thereof of 22 topics pertaining to the specifics of each individual spine fellowship program on both the NASS fellowship directory and individual fellowship program websites. METHODS: The NASS fellowship directory (August 2022 fellowships) and individual program websites were evaluated by two independent reviewers. Program websites were identified via Google search with a systematic protocol. Within each platform, the availability of various data were recorded. Twenty-four different data points were assessed for each program and were categorized into four main categories—general program information, fellow profiles, clinical roles, and nonclinical roles of the fellow. Chi-squared tests were used to compare differences in the availability of specific data provided by the NASS fellowship directory and individual program websites. RESULTS: Seventy-four fellowship programs were identified. The NASS fellowship directory was more likely to provide information about the application process, a description of the program, fellow salary, faculty members, case descriptions, and research requirements (p<.05). The program websites were more likely to provide information about current and previous fellows—including a list of current fellow(s), their education/training, and a list of the previous fellows and their job choice (p<.05). Program websites were also more likely to discuss rotation schedules, clinic expectations, research opportunities, journal club, institutional meetings, sponsored national meetings, and current/previous research (p<.05). However, certain information, including specific clinical responsibilities (eg, rotation schedule, call expectations, clinic expectations) and the profiles of current and previous fellows, were not well represented on either platform. CONCLUSIONS: There were significant differences in the type of information provided by the NASS fellowship directory and program websites. Furthermore, there were key pieces of information that were not well represented on either platform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1542-1548
Number of pages7
JournalSpine Journal
Volume21
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Education
  • North American Spine Society
  • Spine fellowship
  • Spine surgery
  • Web accessibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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