Quality of Web-based information on obsessive compulsive disorder
Hedi Klila,1 Anne Chatton,2 Ariane Zermatten,2 Riaz Khan,2 Martin Preisig,1,3 Yasser Khazaal2,4
1Department of Psychiatry, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland; 2Department of Mental Health and Psychiatry, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland; 3Lausanne University, Lausanne, Switzerland; 4Geneva University, Geneva, Switzerland
Background: The Internet is increasingly used as a source of information for mental health issues. The burden of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) may lead persons with diagnosed or undiagnosed OCD, and their relatives, to search for good quality information on the Web. This study aimed to evaluate the quality of Web-based information on English-language sites dealing with OCD and to compare the quality of websites found through a general and a medically specialized search engine.
Methods: Keywords related to OCD were entered into Google and OmniMedicalSearch. Websites were assessed on the basis of accountability, interactivity, readability, and content quality. The "Health on the Net" (HON) quality label and the Brief DISCERN scale score were used as possible content quality indicators. Of the 235 links identified, 53 websites were analyzed.
Results: The content quality of the OCD websites examined was relatively good. The use of a specialized search engine did not offer an advantage in finding websites with better content quality. A score ≥16 on the Brief DISCERN scale is associated with better content quality.
Conclusion: This study shows the acceptability of the content quality of OCD websites. There is no advantage in searching for information with a specialized search engine rather than a general one. Practical implications: The Internet offers a number of high quality OCD websites. It remains critical, however, to have a provider–patient talk about the information found on the Web.
Keywords: Internet, quality indicators, anxiety disorders, OCD, search engine
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