Lifestyle approaches (diet, physical activity and/or behavioural) play an integral part in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) management. The internet is widely used as a resource for health information. However, the accuracy of lifestyle information on PCOS websites is unknown. This study aimed to assess the accuracy of lifestyle recommendations on PCOS websites.
The internet search was conducted through three search engines across different web browsers and countries. Keywords “PCOS”, “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome” and “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome” were used to identify websites using a previously defined internet search protocol. Websites providing lifestyle information in less than 10 sentences were excluded. The accuracy of the information was assessed through a checklist of 29 questions developed based on National and International guidelines for diet, physical activity or weight management for the general population and PCOS with higher scores indicating greater accuracy. Websites were scored by two independent reviewers.
Fifteen websites were eligible from 72 websites in total (20%). The total accuracy score was 56±13 (potential range -29 to 87) comprising 23±6 for diet (potential range -11 to 33), 15±5 for physical activity (potential range -9 to 27) and 14±3 for weight management (potential range -8 to 24). A moderate proportion of websites provided general information on appropriate diet (40-80%) or weight management strategies (47-60%) but only 10-40% of the websites provided information on aspects such as core food, discretionary foods, exercise quantity/intensity, specific energy deficits or behavioural strategies.
A limited number of Internet sites for PCOS contain information on lifestyle management. Of these, the majority provided information on general diet, physical activity and weight recommendations but less information on a healthy lifestyle implementation. These findings suggest that PCOS-related websites need to be improved to provide more detailed and practical information for consumers to apply to their PCOS management.