Daniel Szvarca, MD, Scott Baumgartner, PA-C, MPAS, Lindsay Clarke, MD, Nadeem Tabbara, MD, Jessica Basso, MD, Marie Borum, MD, EdD, MPH
George Washington University, Washington, DC
Introduction: The gut microbiome is implicated in the pathogenesis of several inflammatory disorders and reported to influence extra-intestinal diseases, including malignancy, neuropsychiatric and cardiovascular disease (CVD). As dysbiosis is implicated in multiple health concerns, the accessibility and accuracy of information available to patients needs review. This study evaluated online sources addressing the role of the gut microbiome in-and-beyond gastrointestinal disease.
Methods: “Gut microbiome” was entered into Google to obtain the first 100 websites. Websites were excluded if non-accessible, duplicates, videos without transcripts or discussed veterinary topics. Sites were categorized by intended audiences: patient or professional. Sites were assessed for discussion of diseases, references and acknowledgement of uncertainty of claims. Readability was determined using the validated Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Calculation. Statistical analysis used a two-tailed Fisher’s Exact Test with P-value set at < 0.05.
Results: 87 websites met inclusion criteria: 46 (53%) intended for patients, 41 (47%) intended for professionals. The average readability grade level for patient sites was 12.6 compared to professional sites at 15.8 (p< 0.0001). 69 sites discussed dysbiosis and disease: 38 GI (C. difficile, IBD, IBS) vs. 66 extra-intestinal disorders (psychiatric, neurologic, obesity, CVD, malignancy, other inflammatory conditions). 52 (60%) sites (16 patient; 36 professional) provided references; fewer in patient vs. professional sites (p< 0.0001). Patient sites less frequently provided references compared to professional sites when discussing psychiatric disease (p=0.017), neurologic disease (p=0.001), obesity (p< 0.001), CVD (p=0.016), C. difficile (p=0.035), IBD (p=0.023) and cancer (0.022). Of those sites that discussed gut microbiome in relation to disease, 44 (64%) provided references and 29 (42%) noted uncertainty in claims with no significant difference between patient and professional sites.
Discussion: The functional gut microbiome may have a significant role in many gastrointestinal and extra-intestinal disorders. The content of patient intended sources about dysbiosis infrequently provides references, inadequately addresses areas of uncertainty and had a higher than NIH recommended 6th grade reading level. This study suggests a need for more evidence-based information with greater patient-centered language among online resources available to patients.
Citation: Daniel Szvarca, MD, Scott Baumgartner, PA-C, MPAS, Lindsay Clarke, MD, Nadeem Tabbara, MD, Jessica Basso, MD, Marie Borum, MD, EdD, MPH. P0110 - WHAT'S YOUR GUT FEELING? EVALUATING PATIENT RESOURCES ON THE IMPACT OF THE GUT MICROBIOME ON DISEASE. Program No. P0110. ACG 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting Abstracts. San Antonio, Texas: American College of Gastroenterology.