BMJ Open 2:e001203 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001203
  • Health policy
    • Research

Can patients really make an informed choice? An evaluation of the availability of online information about consultant surgeons in the United Kingdom

  1. Deiary Kader1
  1. 1Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, UK
  2. 2School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  3. 3Department of Orthopaedics and Trauma, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nick Caplan; nick.caplan{at}
  • Received 20 March 2012
  • Accepted 20 July 2012
  • Published 23 August 2012


Objectives The National Health Service (NHS) ‘Choose and Book’ online scheme, which allows patients to select the location and time of hospital appointments, has now been extended to include the option for patients to select a specific consultant to carry out any necessary treatment. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is sufficient online information about consultants or consultant-led teams for patients to make an informed choice regarding a specific consultant.

Design A web-based analysis of the availability of information.

Setting North of England.

Participants Two hundred websites of orthopaedic surgeons.

Main outcome measures The websites were analysed using a bespoke template that took into account recommendations of the 2010 UK Government white paper. Each website was scored in relation to the availability of specific content relating to each surgeon.

Results The majority of websites detailed authorship information (73.2%), level of professional qualification (98.5%) and area of general (73.7%) and specialist (93.3%) interest. However, approximately 50% of websites provided no information in relation to update cycle, involvement in teaching or research and patient satisfaction. Only five (2.6%) of the websites presented death rates, and none indicated morbidity rates.

Conclusions For patients to be able to make informed choices about their healthcare, surgeons need to ensure that sufficient information is available online, according to the identified limitations of the websites investigated in this study.

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