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BMJ. 2000 Dec 16;321(7275):1511-5.

Quality of web based information on treatment of depression: cross sectional survey.

Author information

  • 1Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University, Canberra 0200, Australia. kathy.griffiths@anu.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate quality of web based information on treatment of depression, to identify potential indicators of content quality, and to establish if accountability criteria are indicators of quality.

DESIGN:

Cross sectional survey.

DATA SOURCES:

21 frequently accessed websites about depression.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

(i) Site characteristics; (ii) quality of content-concordance with evidence based depression guidelines (guideline score), appropriateness of other relevant site information (issues score), and subjective rating of site quality (global score); and (iii) accountability-conformity with core accountability standards (Silberg score) and quality of evidence cited in support of conclusions (level of evidence score).

RESULTS:

Although the sites contained useful information, their overall quality was poor: the mean guideline, issues, and global scores were only 4.7 (range 0-13) out of 43, 9.8 (6-14) out of 17, and 3 (0.5-7. 5) out of 10 respectively. Sites typically did not cite scientific evidence in support of their conclusions. The guideline score correlated with the two other quality of content measures, but none of the content measures correlated with the Silberg accountability score. Content quality was superior for sites owned by organisations and sites with an editorial board.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is a need for better evidence based information about depression on the web, and a need to reconsider the role of accountability criteria as indicators of site quality and to develop simple valid indicators of quality. Ownership by an organisation and the involvement of a professional editorial board may be useful indicators. The study methodology may be useful for exploring these issues in other health related subjects.

PMID:
11118181
PMCID:
PMC27555
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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