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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2013 Dec;128(6):422-33. doi: 10.1111/acps.12146. Epub 2013 May 10.

A literature review and meta-analysis of drug company-funded mental health websites.

Author information

1
School of Psychology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The pharmaceutical industry exercises pervasive influence in the mental health field. The internet has become a primary source of mental health information for the public and practitioners. This study therefore compared mental health websites funded and not funded by drug companies.

METHOD:

A systematic literature review of studies examining the role of drug companies in the funding of mental health websites was conducted, followed by a meta-analysis of studies comparing drug company-funded (DCF) sites with sites not funded by the industry.

RESULTS:

Mental health websites, in general, overemphasize biogenetic causal explanations and medication. Many mental health websites (42%) are either drug company owned (6%) or receive funding from drug companies (36%). A meta-analysis found that DCF sites are significantly more biased toward biogenetic causes (P < 0.01) and toward medication (P < 0.0001) than sites that are financially independent of the industry.

CONCLUSION:

Practitioners are encouraged to inform patients about the bias inherent in industry-sponsored websites and to recommend, instead, more balanced websites that present a range of evidence-based information about causes and treatments.

KEYWORDS:

drug industry; internet; mental health; psychiatry

PMID:
23662697
DOI:
10.1111/acps.12146
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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