The Internet as a communication tool for orthopedic spine fellowships in the United States

Jason Silvestre, Javier Z. Guzman, Branko Skovrlj, Samuel C. Overley, Samuel K. Cho, Sheeraz A. Qureshi, Andrew C. Hecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background context Orthopedic residents seeking additional training in spine surgery commonly use the Internet to manage their fellowship applications. Although studies have assessed the accessibility and content of Web sites in other medical specialties, none have looked at orthopedic spine fellowship Web sites (SFWs). Purpose The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accessibility of information from commonly used databases and assess the content of SFWs. Study design This was a Web site accessibility and content evaluation study. Methods A comprehensive list of available orthopedic spine fellowship programs was compiled by accessing program lists from the SF Match, North American Spine Society, Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database (FREIDA), and (Ortho1). These databases were assessed for accessibility of information including viable links to SFWs and responsive program contacts. A Google search was used to identify SFWs not readily available on these national databases. SFWs were evaluated based on online education and recruitment content. Results Evaluators found 45 SFWs of 63 active programs (71%). Available SFWs were often not readily accessible from national program lists, and no program afforded a direct link to their SFW from SF Match. Approximately half of all programs responded via e-mail. Although many programs described surgical experience (91%) and research requirements (87%) during the fellowship, less than half mentioned didactic instruction (46%), journal clubs (41%), and national meetings or courses attended (28%). Evaluators found an average 45% of fellow recruitment content. Comparison of SFWs by program characteristics revealed three significant differences. Programs with greater than one fellowship position had greater online education content than programs with a single fellow (p=.022). Spine fellowships affiliated with an orthopedic residency program maintained greater education (p=.006) and recruitment (p=.046) content on their SFWs. Conclusions Most orthopedic spine surgery programs underuse the Internet for fellow education and recruitment. The inaccessibility of information and paucity of content on SFWs allow for future opportunity to optimize these resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-661
Number of pages7
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Accessibility
  • Education
  • Orthopaedic residency
  • Recruitment
  • San Francisco match
  • Spine fellowship
  • Websites


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