Objectives: To identify, characterise and evaluate UK websites providing information about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and its pharmacological management.
Design: Cross-sectional survey of websites identified by entering “ADHD” into five search engines.
Data source: 48 websites.
Main outcome measures: Each website was scored against 26 criteria using a bespoke instrument to evaluate (a) quality of information on the disorder and its drug treatment and (b) physical characteristics of the site.
Results: Most sites (n = 22) were hosted by charities and support groups, 12 were by commercial organisations, nine were from government or professional bodies, and five were categorised as miscellaneous. Mean total scores per host category ranged from 18.8 to 21 out of 46, with mean (SD) scores of 5.5 (4.2) out of 28 for content and 14.8 (3.0) out of 18 for physical properties. The government/professional sites scored highest for both content and physical properties. Descriptions of the disorder and its drug treatment were poor and lacking in detail. Although most sites mentioned stimulants, only eight discussed atomoxetine and described how both types of drug worked. Ten sites provided detailed information about side effects. The role of different stimulant brands and formulations was discussed on six sites. Authorship details were generally vague. Physical properties related to navigation and layout performed well. Only four sites used language deemed suitable for consumer-orientated health information.
Conclusions: Information on UK websites about drug treatment for ADHD is basic and incomplete. Websites by government and professional bodies perform better than those in other categories.
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