JMIR Publications

interactive Journal of Medical Research

A general medical journal, focusing on innovation in health and medical research


Journal Description

i-JMR is a general medical journal with a focus on innovation in health, health care, and medicine - through new medical techniques and innovative ideas and/or research, including - but not limited to - technology, clinical informatics, or groundbreaking research.

Published by JMIR Publications, publisher of JMIR, the leading eHealth/mHealth journal (Impact Factor 2015: 4.532), i-JMR is a JMIR "sister journal" which features a rapid and thorough peer-review process, professional copyediting, professional production of PDF, XHTML, and XML proofs.

i-JMR is indexed in PubMed and archived in PubMed Central.

i-JMR is also indexed in Thomson Reuters new Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI) and has a projected impact factor (2015): 1.6.


Recent Articles:

  • Image Source: Jean's Bionic Knee, copyright Dave Haygarth,,
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution cc-by 2.0

    Relationship of Buckling and Knee Injury to Pain Exacerbation in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Web-Based Case-Crossover Study


    Background: Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most frequent causes of limited mobility and diminished quality of life. Pain is the main symptom that drives individuals with knee OA to seek medical care and a recognized antecedent to disability and eventually joint replacement. Evidence shows that patients with symptomatic OA experience fluctuations in pain severity. Mechanical insults to the knee such as injury and buckling may contribute to pain exacerbation. Objective: Our objective was to examine whether knee injury and buckling (giving way) are triggers for exacerbation of pain in persons with symptomatic knee OA. Methods: We conducted a case-crossover study, a novel methodology in which participants with symptomatic radiographic knee OA who have had knee pain exacerbations were used as their own control (self-matched design), with all data collected via the Internet. Participants were asked to log-on to the study website and complete an online questionnaire at baseline and then at regular 10-day intervals for 3 months (control periods)—a total of 10 questionnaires. They were also instructed to go to the website and complete pain exacerbation questionnaires when they experienced an isolated incident of knee pain exacerbation (case periods). A pain exacerbation “case” period was defined as an increase of ≥2 compared to baseline. At each contact the pain exacerbation was designated a case period, and at all other regular 10-day contacts (control periods) participants were asked about knee injuries during the previous 7 days and knee buckling during the previous 2 days. The relationship of knee injury and buckling to the risk of pain exacerbation was examined using conditional logistic regression models. Results: The analysis included 157 participants (66% women, mean age: 62 years, mean BMI: 29.5 kg/m2). Sustaining a knee injury was associated with experiencing a pain exacerbation (odds ratio [OR] 10.2, 95% CI 5.4, 19.3) compared with no injury. Knee buckling was associated with experiencing a pain exacerbation (OR 4.0, 95% CI 2.6, 6.2) compared with no buckling and the association increased with a greater number of buckling events (for ≥ 6 buckling events, OR 20.1, 95% CI 3.7, 110). Conclusions: Knee injury and buckling are associated with knee pain exacerbation. Reducing the likelihood of these mechanical events through avoidance of particular activities and/or appropriate rehabilitation programs may decrease the risk of pain exacerbation.

  • Source:; CC0 Public Domain.

    Relationship Between Difficulties in Daily Activities and Falling: Loco-Check as a Self-Assessment of Fall Risk


    Background: People aged 65 years or older accounted for 25.1% of the Japanese population in 2013, and this characterizes the country as a “super-aging society.” With increased aging, fall-related injuries are becoming important in Japan, because such injuries underlie the necessity for nursing care services. If people could evaluate their risk of falling using a simple self-check test, they would be able to take preventive measures such as exercise, muscle training, walking with a cane, or renovation of their surroundings to remove impediments. Loco-check is a checklist measure of early locomotive syndrome (circumstances in which elderly people need nursing care service or are at high risk of requiring the service within a short time), prepared by the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) in 2007, but it is unclear if there is any association between this measure and falls. Objective: To investigate the association between falls during the previous year and the 7 “loco-check” daily activity items and the total number of items endorsed, and sleep duration. Methods: We conducted an Internet panel survey. Subjects were 624 persons aged between 30 and 90 years. The general health condition of the participants, including their experience of falling, daily activities, and sleep duration, was investigated. A multivariate analysis was carried out using logistic regression to investigate the relationship between falls in the previous year and difficulties with specific daily activities and total number of difficulties (loco-check) endorsed, and sleep duration, adjusting for sex and age. Results: One-fourth of participants (157 persons) experienced at least one fall during the previous year. Fall rate of females (94/312: 30.1%) was significantly higher than that of males (63/312: 20.2%). Fall rate of persons aged more than 65 years (80/242: 33.1%) was significantly higher than that of younger persons (77/382: 20.2%). Logistic regression analysis revealed that daily activities such as “impossibility of getting across the road at a crossing before the traffic light changes” are significantly related to falling. Logistic regression analysis also demonstrated a relationship between the number of items endorsed on loco-check and incidence of falling, wherein persons who endorsed 4 or more items appear to be at higher risk for falls. However, logistic regression found no significant relationship between sleep duration and falling. Conclusions: Our study demonstrated a relationship between the number of loco-check items endorsed and the incidence of falling in the previous year. Endorsement of 4 or more items appeared to signal a high risk for falls. The short self-administered checklist can be a valuable tool for assessing the risk of falling and for initiating preventive measures.

  • Source:; CC-BY-2.0; Attribution: Sylvain Naudin.

    Quality of Web-based Information for the 10 Most Common Fractures


    Background: In today's technologically advanced world, 75% of patients have used Google to search for health information. As a result, health care professionals fear that patients may be misinformed. Currently, there is a paucity of data on the quality and readability of Web-based health information on fractures. Objectives: In this study, we assessed the quality and readability of Web-based health information related to the 10 most common fractures. Methods: Using the Google search engine, we assessed websites from the first results page for the 10 most common fractures using lay search terms. Website quality was measured using the DISCERN instrument, which scores websites as very poor (15-22.5), poor (22.5-37.5), fair (37.5-52.5), good (52.5-67.5), or excellent (67.5-75). The presence of Health on the Net code (HONcode) certification was assessed for all websites. Website readability was measured using the Flesch Reading Ease Score (0-100), where 60-69 is ideal for the general public, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL; −3.4 to ∞), where the mean FKGL of the US adult population is 8. Results: Overall, website quality was “fair” for all fractures, with a mean (standard deviation) DISCERN score of 50.3 (5.8). The DISCERN score correlated positively with a higher website position on the search results page (r2=0.1, P=.002) and with HONcode certification (P=.007). The mean (standard deviation) Flesch Reading Ease Score and FKGL for all fractures were 62.2 (9.1) and 6.7 (1.6), respectively. Conclusion: The quality of Web-based health information on fracture care is fair, and its readability is appropriate for the general public. To obtain higher quality information, patients should select HONcode-certified websites. Furthermore, patients should select websites that are positioned higher on the results page because the Google ranking algorithms appear to rank the websites by quality.

  • Toddler playing. Image sourced and copyright owned by authors Meltem Dinleyici et al.

    Media Use by Children, and Parents’ Views on Children's Media Usage


    Background: New (mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, and social media) and traditional media (television) have come to dominate the lives of many children and adolescents. Despite all of this media time and new technology, many parents seem to have few rules regarding the use of media by their children and adolescents. Objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate media access/use of children and to evaluate beliefs and attitudes of parents concerning the use of old and new media in Turkey. Methods: This is a cross-sectional electronic survey of a national convenience sample in Turkey via SurveyMonkey, including 41 questions regarding topics relevant to television, computers, mobile phones, iPad/tablet use, and social media accounts. Results: The responses of the 333 participants (238 women, 95 men; 27-63 years) were evaluated. The average daily watching alone time was 0 to 2 hours among 53.4% (46/86), and daily coviewing time with parents of children was 0 to 2 hours among 62.7% (54/86) of children below 2 years of age. Regarding parents’ monitoring their children’s computer use (n=178), 35.4% (63/178) of the parents prefer coviewing, 13.5% of the parents use a family filter (24/178), and 33.1% (59/178) of the parents prefer to check Web history. Approximately 71.2% (237/333) of the participants had an iPad/tablet in the house, 84.3% (200/333) of the parents give their children permission to use the iPad/tablet. Of the parents, 22.5% (45/200) noted that their children used the iPad/tablet at the table during lunch/dinner and 57.9% (26/45) of these children were aged 5 years and below. Of parents, 27.3% (91/333) agreed that the optimal age for owning a mobile phone was 12 years, and 18.0% (60/333) of the parents noted that their children (one-third was below 2 years) used the mobile phone at the table during meals. A total of 33.3% (111/333) children/adolescents have a Facebook profile, and 54.0% (60/111) were below 13 years of age. Approximately 89.2% (297/333) of the parents emphasized that the Internet is essential for their child’s education. Discussion: According to our study results, knowledge regarding the use of old and new media is limited among the parents in Turkey. Our study showed that screen time and mobile device use (including during meals) are common in children below 2 years of age, whereas no screen time was recommended for children below 2 years of age. We concluded that there is need for evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of the Internet and social media for parents and parents should ensure that there is a plan in place for the use of children’s media.

  • Image Source:; attribution: Dirk Marwede, Licensed under CC-By 2.0.

    eHealth Literacy: In the Quest of the Contributing Factors


    Background: Understanding the factors that influence eHealth in a country is particularly important for health policy decision makers and the health care market, as it provides critical information to develop targeted and tailored interventions for relevant patient–consumer segments, and further suggests appropriate strategies for training the health illiterate part of the population. Objective: The objective of the study is to assess the eHealth literacy level of Greek citizens, using the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS), and further explore the factors that shape it and are associated with it. Methods: This empirical study relies on a unique sample of 1064 citizens in Greece in the year 2013. The participants were requested to answer various questions about their ability to solve health-related issues using the Internet, and to provide information about their demographic characteristics and life-style habits. Ordered logit models were used to describe a certain citizen’s likelihood of being eHealth literate. Results: The demographic factors show that the probability of an individual being eHealth literate decreases by 23% (P=.001) when the individual ages and increases by 53% (P<.001) when he or she acquires higher level of education. Among the life-style variables, physical exercise appears to be strongly and positively associated with the level of eHealth literacy (P=.001). Additionally, other types of technology literacies, such as computer literacy and information literacy, further enhance the eHealth performance of citizens and have the greatest impact among all factors. Conclusions: The factors influencing eHealth literacy are complex and interdependent. However, the Internet is a disruptive factor in the relationship between health provider and health consumer. Further research is needed to examine how several factors associate with eHealth literacy, since, the latter is not only related to health care outcomes but also can be a tool for disseminating social inequalities.

  • Source:; CC0 Public Domain; modified.

    Evaluating the Quality of Website Information of Private-Practice Clinics Offering Cell Therapies in Japan


    Background: Although the safety and effectiveness of stem cell therapies are yet to be proven, recent studies show that such therapies are being advertised with some questionable marketing techniques to effect positive portrayal of the therapies on the webpages of private-practice clinics to sell their therapies worldwide. In such context, those clinics communicate directly with consumers (patients and their family members) via the clinics’ websites. Meanwhile, the Health Science Council at the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) in Japan has pointed out noncompliance of some local clinics with the provisions concerning medical advertising in the Medical Care Act in the past. However, locally little is known about the current status of those clinics including the quality of their webpage information disseminated. Objective: To evaluate the quality of website information of private-practice clinics offering cell therapies in Japan. Methods: Twenty-four websites with 77 treatments from the Google search were identified for evaluation. The following three exploratory analyses were performed: first in order to ascertain web-based portrayal of private-practice clinics offering cell therapies, a descriptive analysis was conducted using a coding frame; second we evaluated the quality of the target website information from the viewpoint of the level of consideration taken for patients and their family members, using 10 quality criteria (“the Minimum Standard”) from the e-Health Code of Ethics 2.0; third we counted and coded expressions that matched set categories for “name-dropping” and “personalized medicine” in the information posted on these websites. Results: Analysis on the treatments (N=77) revealed 126 indications (multiple response): the top three indications were “cancer,” “skin-rejuvenation/antiaging/anti–skin aging,” and “breast augmentation/buttock augmentation.” As for the portrayal of treatment risks and benefits, 78% (60/77) of treatments were mentioned with “benefits,” whereas 77% (59/77) of treatments were mentioned with “risks.” As for the source(s) cited for the discussions of treatment risks and benefits, no treatment quoted an expert’s opinion for the risks, whereas 7% (6/77) treatments quoted external sources for the benefits. As for the results with e-Health Code of Ethics 2.0, not a single clinic fulfilled all the 10 criteria; 63% (15/24) of the clinics was found exercising “name-dropping,” and 21% (5/24) of the clinics mentioned expressions related to “personalized medicine” on their websites. Conclusions: Our website content analyses confirmed the following: (1) the clinics mentioned the risks or benefits of the treatments with hardly any scientific citations, (2) the way the website information was disseminated was inappropriate for patients and their families, and (3) many websites seemed to be using marketing techniques in order to draw patients’ interests or attentions. It is important that more similar studies are undertaken globally to enable an orchestrated regulatory approach toward private-practice clinics.

  • Source:, Attribution: George Hodan; Public Domain.

    An Observational Study to Evaluate the Usability and Intent to Adopt an Artificial Intelligence–Powered Medication Reconciliation Tool


    Background: Medication reconciliation (the process of creating an accurate list of all medications a patient is taking) is a widely practiced procedure to reduce medication errors. It is mandated by the Joint Commission and reimbursed by Medicare. Yet, in practice, medication reconciliation is often not effective owing to knowledge gaps in the team. A promising approach to improve medication reconciliation is to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) decision support tools into the process to engage patients and bridge the knowledge gap. Objective: The aim of this study was to improve the accuracy and efficiency of medication reconciliation by engaging the patient, the nurse, and the physician as a team via an iPad tool. With assistance from the AI agent, the patient will review his or her own medication list from the electronic medical record (EMR) and annotate changes, before reviewing together with the physician and making decisions on the shared iPad screen. Methods: In this study, we developed iPad-based software tools, with AI decision support, to engage patients to “self-service” medication reconciliation and then share the annotated reconciled list with the physician. To evaluate the software tool’s user interface and workflow, a small number of patients (10) in a primary care clinic were recruited, and they were observed through the whole process during a pilot study. The patients are surveyed for the tool’s usability afterward. Results: All patients were able to complete the medication reconciliation process correctly. Every patient found at least one error or other issues with their EMR medication lists. All of them reported that the tool was easy to use, and 8 of 10 patients reported that they will use the tool in the future. However, few patients interacted with the learning modules in the tool. The physician and nurses reported the tool to be easy-to-use, easy to integrate into existing workflow, and potentially time-saving. Conclusions: We have developed a promising tool for a new approach to medication reconciliation. It has the potential to create more accurate medication lists faster, while better informing the patients about their medications and reducing burden on clinicians.

  • The project leaders with one of the mobile technologies tested (spirometer). Source and copyright: the authors.

    Telemonitoring in Cystic Fibrosis: A 4-year Assessment and Simulation for the Next 6 Years


    Background: Innovative technologies and informatics offer a wide range of services to health districts, doctors, nurses, and patients, and is changing the traditional concept of health care. In the last few years, the availability of portable devices, their easiness to transport and use, and the capability to collect and transmit various clinical data have resulted in the fast development of telemedicine. However, despite its potential impact in improving patient conditions, and its cost effectiveness reported in literature, telemedicine is not in daily practice. Objective: The aim of this study is to provide evidence of the positive impact of telemonitoring proving the sustainability of an application by sending spirometry outcomes from patients’ homes to the hospital doctors via the Internet, and from doctors to patients by an additional phone call solution. Methods: We examined collected data related to clinical improvement of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). The patients were followed-up at home using telemonitoring for a period of 10 years, with the aims to prove the sustainability of the methodology (transmissions of spirometry from the patients' home to the doctors and feedback from the doctors to the patients by phone call from the hospital). We stored and analyzed all spirometry transmissions received, and tested the possible presence to decrease the costs between the standard clinical trial (only ambulatory visits) and standard clinical trial with telemonitoring for the follow-up of patients with CF (telemedicine). This was done through an economic analysis of the costs for patients followed at home by telemonitoring. We assessed four years of observation and a simulation of total long-term costs between 2010 and 2020. Results: We discovered a potential saving of €40,397.00 per patient for 10 years, actualized at €36,802.97 for the follow-up of all patients enrolled. Conclusions: The results from the study suggest that telemedicine can improve the health of patients with CF. It is a relatively cheap and potentially sustainable solution, compared to standard clinical trials. However, to establish and prove the long-term effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, more controlled psychological and behavioral studies are needed.

  • Image Source: Chest bone pain, copyright sos doctors. Published on Jun 25, 2014. Retrieved from Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution cc-by 2.0

    Assessing Quality of Life and Medical Care in Chronic Angina: An Internet Survey


    Background: Angina is a clinical syndrome whose recognition relies heavily on self-report, so its identification can be challenging. Most data come from cohorts identified by physicians and nurses at the point of care; however, current widespread access to the Internet makes identification of community cohorts feasible and offers a complementary picture of angina. Objective: To describe a population self-identified as experiencing chronic angina by use of an Internet survey. Methods: Using email and an Internet portal, we invited individuals with a diagnosis of angina and recent symptoms to complete an Internet survey on treatment and quality of life (QOL). In total, 1147 surveys were received. The main analysis was further limited to those reporting a definite coronary heart disease (CHD) history (N=646, 56% of overall). Results: Overall, about 15% reported daily angina and 40% weekly angina. Those with more frequent angina were younger, more often depressed, and reported a shorter time since diagnosis. They also had substantially worse treatment satisfaction, physical function, and overall QOL. Fewer than 40% were on ≥ 2 anti-anginals, even with daily angina. The subjects without a history of definite CHD had unexpectedly low use of antianginal and evidence-based medicines, suggesting either a lack of specificity in the use of self-reported angina to identify patients with CHD or lack of access to care. Conclusions: Use of inexpensive electronic tools can identify community-based angina cohorts for clinical research. Limitation to subjects with a definite history of CHD lends diagnostic face validity to the approach; however, other symptomatic individuals are also identified.

  • Image Source: Happy faces; Image Copyright Heather Collins et al. Source: Heather Collins et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution cc-by 2.0

    Information Needs in the Precision Medicine Era: How Genetics Home Reference Can Help


    Precision medicine focuses on understanding individual variability in disease prevention, care, and treatment. The Precision Medicine Initiative, launched by President Obama in early 2015, aims to bring this approach to all areas of health care. However, few consumer-friendly resources exist for the public to learn about precision medicine and the conditions that could be affected by this approach to care. Genetics Home Reference, a website from the US National Library of Medicine, seeks to support precision medicine education by providing the public with summaries of genetic conditions and their associated genes, as well as information about issues related to precision medicine such as disease risk and pharmacogenomics. With the advance of precision medicine, consumer-focused resources like Genetics Home Reference can be foundational in providing context for public understanding of the increasing amount of data that will become available.

  • Copyright: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research 2015, licensed under CC-BY-ND 4.0.

    YouTube Videos to Create a “Virtual Hospital Experience” for Hip and Knee Replacement Patients to Decrease Preoperative Anxiety: A Randomized Trial


    Background: With declining reimbursement to health care systems, face-to-face time between patients and providers to optimize preoperative education and counseling may be challenging. Objective: Because high patient anxiety prior to surgery has been linked to more severe and persistent pain after joint replacement surgery, the Orthopedic Surgery Department at Mayo Clinic in Florida created a playlist of 16 YouTube videos aimed at creating a virtual hospital experience for primary total hip and knee joint replacement patients. A randomized trial was then performed to evaluate the potential impact of viewing this playlist on preoperative anxiety. Methods: Each patient completed a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) score assessment at the time of the routine preoperative clinic visit and then randomized based on his/her gender, type of surgery, and initial GAD score to either the control group of standard education (education at face-to-face clinical visits as well as printed educational materials) or the treatment group (standard education plus access to the YouTube playlist). On the morning of the patient’s surgery, the same survey was repeated. Of the 65 patients who consented to participate in the study, 53 completed the study (82%) with 28 of 29 (97% completed) in the control group and 25 of 36 (69% completed) in the treatment group. Results: Overall, the results showed a trend toward less anxiety in patients who viewed the YouTube videos; this was exhibited by a reduction in the median GAD score by 1 point. This trend is more clearly present in patients with high preoperative anxiety (predominantly women), as seen in the reduction of the median GAD score by 6 points in the treatment group. Conclusions: Although our experience is limited, our results indicate that a series of tailored videos may decrease patient anxiety preoperatively. We recommend further exploration of both this concept and the use of social media tools in preoperative patient education. Trial Registration: NCT02546180; (Archived by WebCite at

  • Image produced by the authors.

    Opinions and Beliefs About Telemedicine for Emergency Treatment During Ambulance Transportation and for Chronic Care at Home


    Background: Telemedicine is a valid alternative to face-to-face patient care in many areas. However, the opinion of all stakeholders is decisive for successful adoption of this technique, especially as telemedicine expands into novel domains such as emergency teleconsultations during ambulance transportation and chronic care at home. Objective: We evaluate the viewpoints of the broad public, patients, and professional caregivers in these situations. Methods: A 10-question survey was developed and obtained via face-to-face interviews of visitors at the Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel (UZB). The online questionnaire was also distributed among professional caregivers via the intranet of the UZB and among the broad public using social media. Results: In total, 607 individuals responded to the questionnaire, expressing a positive opinion regarding telemedicine for in-ambulance emergency treatment and for chronic care at home. Privacy issues were not perceived as relevant, and most respondents were ready to participate in future teleconsultations. Lack of telecommunication knowledge (213/566, 37.6%) was the only independent factor associated with rejection of telemedicine at home and respondents via social media (250/607, 41.2%) were less concerned about privacy issues than respondents via face-to-face interviews (visitors, 234/607, 38.6%). The visitors were more positive towards in-ambulance telemedicine and more likely to agree with future participation in teleconsultations than respondents via social media. Conclusions: The broad public, professional caregivers, and patients reported a positive attitude towards telemedicine for emergency treatment during ambulance transportation and for chronic care at home. These results support further improvement of telemedicine solutions in these domains.

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  • A Prospective Observational Trial: Testing the Feasibility of Remote Patient Monitoring in Prenatal Care using a Mobile App and Connected Devices

    Date Submitted: Jun 7, 2016

    Open Peer Review Period: Jun 10, 2016 - Aug 5, 2016

    Background: Excessive weight gain and elevated blood pressure are significant risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes such as gestational diabetes, premature birth and preeclampsia. More effectiv...

    Background: Excessive weight gain and elevated blood pressure are significant risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes such as gestational diabetes, premature birth and preeclampsia. More effective strategies to facilitate adherence to gestational weight gain goals and monitor blood pressure may have a positive health benefit for pregnant women and their babies. The impact of utilizing a remote patient monitoring system to monitor blood pressure and weight gain as a component of prenatal care has not been previously assessed. Objective: The aim of this study is to determine the feasibility of monitoring patients remotely in prenatal care using a smartphone app and connected digital devices. Methods: In this prospective observational study, we recruited eight women with low risk pregnancy in the first trimester at an urban academic medical center. Participants received a smartphone app with connected digital weight scale and blood pressure cuff for at-home data collection for the duration of pregnancy. At-home data was assessed for abnormal values of blood pressure or weight to generate clinical alerts to patient and provider. As measures of feasibility of the system, patients were studied for engagement with the app, accuracy of remote data, efficacy of alert system and patient satisfaction. Results: Patient engagement with the mobile app averaged 5.5 times per week over the six-month study period. Weight data collection averaged 1.5 times per week and blood pressure data collection averaged 1.1 times per week. At-home measurements of weight and blood pressure were highly accurate compared to in-office measurements. Automatic clinical alerts identified two episodes of abnormal weight gain with no false triggers. Patients demonstrated high satisfaction with the system. Conclusions: In this pilot study, we demonstrated that a system using a smartphone app coupled to remote monitoring devices is feasible for prenatal care. Clinical Trial: Approved by the GWU IRB. IRB# 051422.

  • A criteria-based evaluation of Internet sites of orthodontists in private practice

    Date Submitted: Jun 3, 2016

    Open Peer Review Period: Jun 6, 2016 - Aug 1, 2016

    Background: Health-related use of the Internet has increased markedly in recent years. The Internet offers patients not only information on diseases and therapy options, but also the possibility to se...

    Background: Health-related use of the Internet has increased markedly in recent years. The Internet offers patients not only information on diseases and therapy options, but also the possibility to search for dentists using physician directories or websites. For privately practicing dentists, having a website serves as an important tool for marketing and recruiting new patients. Objective: This study aimed to investigate existence, frequency, and quality of websites of privately practicing orthodontists. Methods: Internet sites of orthodontists listed with the association of statutory health insurance physicians in five German states were investigated. Websites were evaluated according to 68 operationalized criteria and data analyzed based to hypotheses. Results: The majority of orthodontists (368 of 619; 59.5%) had a website. The frequency of websites differed in terms of region (city states 66.8% vs. territorial states 55.2%; P=.005), and practice type (single physician practice 40.6% vs. multiple physician practice 59.2%), but not in terms of gender (P=.43). The mean overall score was 43.0% (29.2/68 points). More information was found on therapy options (74.7%) and extra services (61.7%) than on clinical pictures treated (30.8%) or corresponding diagnostics (25.7%). Legal requirements (publisher’s information 43.5%; data protection declaration 43.2%) were oftentimes not fully met. Conclusions: Orthodontists’ websites focused on marketing aspects, whereas a higher value should be placed on patient-oriented content. Since legal requirements were oftentimes only met with deficiencies, there is a clear need for optimization in this regard. Orthodontists did not make use of all available web functions, in particular those with advanced potential (e.g. social media integration). Recommendations are desirable from the competent professional associations regarding the content and form of websites for dental practices.