The quality of online antidepressant drug information: an evaluation of English and Finnish language Web sites

Marjo Prusti, Susanna Lehtineva, Marika Pohjanoksa-Mäntylä, J Simon Bell

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Background: The Internet is a frequently used source of drug information, including among people with mental disorders. Online drug information may be narrow in scope, incomplete, and contain errors of omission. 

Objective: To evaluate the quality of online antidepressant drug information in English and Finnish. 

Methods: Forty Web sites were identified using the search terms antidepressants and masennuslääkkeet in English and Finnish, respectively. Included Web sites (14 English, 8 Finnish) were evaluated for aesthetics, interactivity, content coverage, and content correctness using published criteria. All Web sites were assessed using the Date, Author, References, Type, Sponsor (DARTS) and DISCERN quality assessment tools. 

Results: English and Finnish Web sites had similar aesthetics, content coverage, and content correctness scores. English Web sites were more interactive than Finnish Web sites (P< .05). Overall, adverse drug reactions were covered on 21 of 22 Web sites; however, drug-alcohol interactions were addressed on only 9 of 22 Web sites, and dose was addressed on only 6 of 22 Web sites. Few (2/22 Web sites) provided incorrect information. The DISCERN score was significantly correlated with content coverage (r=0.670, P< .01), content correctness (r=0.663, P< .01), and the DARTS score (r=0.459, P< .05). 

Conclusions: No Web site provided information about all aspects of antidepressant treatment. Nevertheless, few Web sites provided incorrect information. Both English and Finnish Web sites were similar in terms of aesthetics, content coverage, and content correctness. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-268
Number of pages6
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Antidepressive agent
  • Drug information services
  • Finland
  • Internet
  • Physician patient relationship

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