A study of online patient resources for GVHD reveals information gaps

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have recently demonstrated that there is a deficiency in online information resources for patients of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). These findings, published in Archives of Dermatological Research, highlight a need for improvement to such patient resources, as common dermatological symptoms often cause increased stress in patients experiencing symptoms.

GVHD is a complex disease arising from an allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant complication that can bring with it a multitude of physical and psychological effects. Approximately 33% of GVHD patients experience psychological effects such as anxiety and depression. The content quality for patient resources has not been investigated previously and because patient education on common side effects can alleviate stress and improve overall outcome, the authors sought out to examine the current quality of such resources.

The authors utilized Google to obtain specific online content for a cross-sectional study in March 2021. They followed parameters allowing them to filter out sponsored content, inaccessible texts, news materials, and content not intended for patients leaving them with 52 web results for analysis. The resulting content was assessed for inclusion of all aspects of GVHD, the level of detail the resources included, and whether the information was physician-authored (32.7%) or non-physician-authored (p = 0.05). The author’s findings demonstrate that online GVHD patient educational resources currently suffer from informational gaps about cutaneous symptoms and dermatological management. Further, anxiety and depression are sparsely mentioned in the examined patient resources. Taken together, these findings reveal areas of improvement for information resources of patients with GVHD.


Kaundinya T, El-Behaedi S, Choi JN. Content analysis and dermatologic gaps in online patient education materials for graft-versus-host disease. Arch Dermatol Res. 2023;315(4):1063-1066. doi:10.1007/s00403-022-02452-x

Tags: GVHD, hematopoietic transplantation