PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the readability and quality of English-language Internet information related to vocal hygiene, vocal health, and prevention of voice disorders. This study extends recent work because it evaluates readability, content quality, and website origin across broader search criteria than previous studies evaluating online voice material.
METHOD: Eighty-five websites were aggregated using five different country-specific search engines. Websites were then analyzed using quality and readability assessments. The entire web page was evaluated; however, no information or links beyond the first page was reviewed. Statistical calculations were employed to examine website ratings, differences between website origin and quality and readability scores, and correlations between readability instruments.
RESULT: Websites exhibited acceptable quality as measured by the DISCERN. However, only one website obtained the Health On the Net certification. Significant differences in quality were found among website origin, with government websites receiving higher quality ratings. Approximate educational levels required to comprehend information on the websites ranged from 8 to 9 years of education. Significant differences were found between website origin and readability measures with higher levels of education required to understand information on websites of nonprofit organizations.
CONCLUSION: Current vocal hygiene, vocal health, and prevention of voice disorders websites were found to exhibit acceptable levels of quality and readability. However, highly rated Internet information related to voice care should be made more accessible to voice clients through Health On the Net certification.