The Evolution of Kidney Stone Information Available to Patients: Interest Trends of Social Media
Purpose To identify what information kidney stone patients want and the resources they use to find it, and to
evaluate kidney stone-related smartphone apps based on their actionability, understandability, quality, and reliability.
Methods Google Trends was used to assess searches related to kidney stones and related smartphone applications
(apps) from 2019 to 2021. A questionnaire aimed at ascertaining where patients obtain kidney stone-related information
was posted on popular Facebook groups and one Reddit group. Seven popular kidney stone-related apps were
evaluated for reliability, quality, actionability, and understandability. Univariate statistical analysis, search volume
index, and descriptive statistics were used to assess correlations and impact of variables on outcomes of interest.
Results Between 2019 and 2021, the peak search volume index of kidney stones was in the summer and winter.
Questionnaire participants obtain most information from their doctor (45%), Reddit and Facebook groups (43%),
YouTube (9%), and smartphone apps (4%). 23% reported using a kidney stone app at least once to obtain information.
The average smartphone app overall has poor reliability (2.43, P <0.001) and quality (1.96, P = 0.039) and poor
review of treatment options with side effects (1.36, P = 0.689), and does not encourage shared decision-making (2.57,
P = 0.162). Poor actionability was found in all apps, and good understandability was found in 6 of the 7 apps.
Conclusion While physicians are still the most-used resource for patients, patients are increasingly using online
platforms and smartphone applications. Urologists should consider engaging kidney stone patients through such
platforms to provide reliable educational information.
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