Web-based information on the treatment of tobacco dependence for oral health professionals. An analysis of English written websites

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Background: Studies have been conducted on the content and quality of webbased information for patients who are interested in smoking cessation advice and for healthcare practitioners, regarding the content of e-learning programs about tobacco cessation. However, to the best of our knowledge, there is no such information about the quality of online learning resources regarding smoking cessation dedicated to oral health professionals.

Objectives: The aim of the present study was to identify and evaluate the quality
of the content of web pages providing information about smoking cessation for
oral health care professionals.

Methods: Websites were identified using Google and Health on Net (HON) search
engines using the terms “smoking cessation OR quit smoking OR stop smoking OR3As OR 5As OR tobacco counselling AND dentistry OR dental clinic OR dentist OR dental hygienist OR oral health professionals”. The first 100 consecutive results of the 2 the search engines, were considered for the study. Quality assessment was rated using the DISCERN questionnaire, the JAMA Benchmarks and the Health on Net seal. In addition, smoking cessation content on
each site was assessed using an abbreviated version of the Smoke Treatment Scale (STS-C) and the Smoking Treatment Scale-Rating (STS-C). To assess legibility of the selected websites the Flesch Reading Ease (FRES) and the Flesch-Kinkaid Reading Grade Level (FKRGL) were used. Websites were also classified into multimedia and non-multimedia and friendly and non-friendly usability.

Results: Of the first 200 sites selected (100 of Google and 100 of HON) only 11 met the inclusion criteria, and mainly belonged to Governmental institutions (n=8), the other being prepared by Professional Associations (n=2) and non-profit organizations (n=1). Only 3 were exclusively dedicated to smoking cessation. Theaverage score obtained with the DISCERN was 3.0 and the average score in the FKRGL and FRES was 13.31  3.34 and 40.73  15.46, respectively. Of the 11 websites evaluated none achieved all four JAMA benchmarks. The mean score of STS-R among all the websites was 2.81 ± 0.95 out of 5. A significant strong positive correlation was obtained between the DISCERN mean values and the STS-R (R=0.89; p=.01).

Conclusions: The mean quality of web pages with information for oral health care professionals about smoking cessation is low and displayed a high heterogeneity. These web pages are also difficult to read and often lack multimedia resources, which further limits their usefulness.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere349
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2017


  • tobacco use cessation , website evaluation , general practice , dental , continuing medical education