A literature review and meta-analysis of drug company–funded mental health websites
Article first published online: 10 MAY 2013
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Volume 128, Issue 6, pages 422–433, December 2013
How to Cite
A literature review and meta-analysis of drug company–funded mental health websites, .
- Issue published online: 11 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 10 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 12 APR 2013
- drug industry;
- mental health
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.
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.
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.
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.