Srpski Arhiv za Celokupno Lekarstvo (2015-01-01)

Toxoplasmosis and pregnancy: Reliability of internet sources of information

  • Bobić Branko,
  • Štajner Tijana,
  • Nikolić Aleksandra,
  • Klun Ivana,
  • Srbljanović Jelena,
  • Đurković-Đaković Olgica

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 143, no. 7-8
pp. 438 – 445


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Introduction. Health education of women of childbearing age has been shown to be an acceptable approach to the prevention of toxoplasmosis, the most frequent congenitally transmitted parasitic infection. Objective. The aim of this study was to evaluate the Internet as a source of health education on toxoplasmosis in pregnancy. Methods. A group of 100 pregnant women examined in the National Reference Laboratory for Toxoplasmosis was surveyed by a questionnaire on the source of their information on toxoplasmosis. We also analyzed information offered by websites in the Serbian and Croatian languages through the Google search engine, using “toxoplasmosis” as a keyword. The 23 top websites were evaluated for comprehensiveness and accuracy of information on the impact of toxoplasmosis on the course of pregnancy, diagnosis and prevention. Results. Having knowledge on toxoplasmosis was confirmed by 64 (64.0%) examined women, 40.6% (26/64) of whom learned about toxoplasmosis through the Internet, 48.4% from physicians, and 10.9% from friends. Increase in the degree of education was found to be associated with the probability that pregnant women would be informed via the Internet (RR=3.15, 95% CI=1.27-7.82, p=0.013). Analysis of four interactive websites (allowing users to ask questions) showed that routes of infection were the most common concern, particularly the risk presented by pet cats and dogs, followed by the diagnosis of infection (who and when should be tested, and how should the results be interpreted). Of 20 sites containing educational articles, only seven were authorized and two listed sources. Evaluation confirmed that information relevant to pregnant women was significantly more accurate than comprehensive, but no site gave both comprehensive and completely accurate information. Only four sites (20%) were good sources of information for pregnant women. Conclusion. Internet has proved itself as an important source of information. However, despite numerous websites, only a few offer reliable information to the Serbian (or Croat) speaking community, and none present complete and accurate information relevant to pregnant women. [Projekat Ministarstva nauke Republike Srbije, br. III 41019]