The Patient Perspective: Evaluating the Accessibility of Transoral Robotic Surgery Online Resources

Monica H. Xing, Raymond L. Chai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The varied treatment options available to patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) can cause significant patient confusion. In particular, transoral robotic surgery (TORS) has become widely used for treatment of HPV-positive OPSCC. As patients commonly refer to the internet for additional information, we aim to evaluate the quality of online patient educational materials for TORS in comparison to other otolaryngology surgical procedures. Methods: The terms “transoral robotic surgery,” “glossectomy,” “thyroidectomy,” and “neck dissection” were searched on Google. Flesch reading ease, Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level, MD review rates, and PEMAT understandability and actionability were assessed for each search term. Google trends was used to determine search interest for each term between May 2015 and May 2020. Results: Of the 30 TORS websites that met inclusion criteria, the average FRE and FKGL scores were 40.74 and 11.60 (that of an average high school senior). The FRE and FKGL scores for TORS were all statistically significantly lower than those of all comparator search terms (P <.05). Only 1 out of 30 TORS sites were MD reviewed, representing the lowest MD review rate across all search terms. Understandability and actionability scores for TORS were also the lowest across all search terms at 77.71% and 2.66%, respectively. TORS had the lowest search interest. Conclusions: In comparison to other common otolaryngology procedures, TORS websites are the least patient friendly. As TORS becomes a more widely used procedure, it is critical that TORS websites become higher quality resources that patients can reliably reference.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-38
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • patient education
  • readability
  • transoral robotic surgery
  • websites


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