An analysis of online health information on schizophrenia or related conditions: a cross-sectional survey

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2013 Aug 30;13:98. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-98.


Background: Around 20% of those who seek health information online, search specifically for mental health. However, little is known about the nature of the online health information offered by two European countries, Finland and Greece, which are characterized by markedly differing levels of Internet access and online health information seeking. This study aims to assess, describe and compare websites, written in two European, non-English languages (Finnish and Greek) that appear first after performing an online search concerning schizophrenia or related conditions.

Methods: The first 20 results from four search terms (searched in Finnish and Greek) in the Web search engine 'Google' were screened. A total of 160 websites were retrieved (80 Finnish, 80 Greek) and evaluated using a preformulated coding system which consisted of websites' indicators, such as: types, characteristics, accountability, interactivity, aesthetics and content. Differences between websites were evaluated with Chi-Square or Fisher's Exact tests for categorical data and independent t-tests for parametric data.

Results: Twenty-four Finnish and thirty-four Greek websites (36% in total) were included. Almost two-thirds (62%, n=36) were owned by an organization, compared to 17% (n=10) by an individual. In both countries, aesthetics had the highest score (possible range 0-4, mean = 2.6, SD = .62), while interactivity the lowest (range 0-5, mean = 1.79, SD = .87). There were no statistically significant differences among the accountability, interactivity and aesthetics scores of the Finnish and Greek websites.

Conclusions: All assessed indicators suggest there is a need to improve Finnish and Greek online information about schizophrenia or related conditions. The poor website interactivity is of particular concern given the challenges faced by the target group. The findings can be used to guide the development and dissemination of online mental health information aimed at Finnish and Greek online health-seekers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Information Services / standards*
  • Internet*
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Schizophrenia*