Children now spend more time on the internet than watching television and the majority of their parents use the internet regularly. Five years ago, the senior author led a study into internet presence of UK paediatric surgical centres. We wanted to assess the improvement over the last five years and to assess the quality of this content, particularly patient information leaflets.
The websites of all UK centres were opened and details on the same variables recorded, i.e. contact details, the breadth of information found and links to BAPS, BAPU and BAPES. We then searched their websites for links to Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Summary statistics were produced and results were compared with the 2013 study using Microsoft Excel® and the c2 test.
We found that 18 (64%) centres had specific websites (up from 50%, p=0.106). Of these, 17 (60%) provided contact details (up from 31%, p=0.001). Just five (18%, up from 15%, p=0.59) websites provided any link with the BAPS website. All hospitals had Twitter handles and Facebook pages, but only nine had paediatric surgery specific content. Only 10 (36%) centres had easily accessible patient information leaflets with the range of information highly variable. The most commonly described procedure was circumcision.
The internet presence of paediatric surgical centres in the British Isles has improved. However, with the majority of patients and parents regularly using the internet, having only 36% of centres with patient/parent information leaflets is falling short and the increase in number of specific websites was not significant. Whilst our core business is not technology, it is our duty to convey information to our patients and their parents in a format with which they are familiar. We therefore suggest increased patient involvement in the design of web presence.