Schizophrenia, drug companies and the internet

Soc Sci Med. 2008 Jan;66(1):99-109. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.07.027. Epub 2007 Sep 10.


To investigate differences in the content of websites funded, and not funded, by drug companies, the top 50 websites about 'schizophrenia' in Google and Yahoo were analysed in relation to five variables: three scales relating to causes, treatments and violence, and two categorical variables about the condition being extremely severe and about linking coming off medication to violence. Fifty eight percent of the websites analysed received funding from drug companies. Drug company funded websites were significantly more likely to espouse bio-genetic rather than psycho-social causal explanations, to emphasise medication rather than psycho-social treatments, to portray 'schizophrenia' as a debilitating, devastating and long-term illness, and to link violence to coming off medication. They were neither more nor less likely to describe 'schizophrenics' as violent. These results suggest that the documented influence of the pharmaceutical industry over research, professional organisations, teaching institutions, clinical practice and regulatory bodies may now extend to public promotion, via the internet, of perspectives conducive to maximisation of sales.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Capital Financing
  • Consumer Health Information / economics*
  • Disclosure*
  • Drug Industry / economics*
  • Drug Information Services
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Internet / economics*
  • Marketing*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Violence