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Content and functionality of alcohol and other drug websites : results of an online survey

Klein, Britt , White, Angela , Kavanagh, David J., Shandley, Kerrie , Kay-Lambkin, Frances , Proudfoot, Judith , Drennan, Judy, Connor, Jason , Baker, Amanda , & Young, Ross (2010) Content and functionality of alcohol and other drug websites : results of an online survey. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 12(5), pp. 1-6.

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Abstract

Background: There is a growing trend for individuals to seek health information from online sources. Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is a significant health problem worldwide, but access and use of AOD websites is poorly understood. ----- ----- Objective: To investigate content and functionality preferences for AOD and other health websites. Methods: An anonymous online survey examined general Internet and AOD-specific usage and search behaviors, valued features of AOD and health-related websites (general and interactive website features), indicators of website trustworthiness, valued AOD website tools or functions, and treatment modality preferences. ----- ----- Results: Surveys were obtained from 1214 drug (n = 766) and alcohol website users (n = 448) (mean age 26.2 years, range 16-70). There were no significant differences between alcohol and drug groups on demographic variables, Internet usage, indicators of website trustworthiness, or on preferences for AOD website functionality. A robust website design/navigation, open access, and validated content provision were highly valued by both groups. While attractiveness and pictures or graphics were also valued, high-cost features (videos, animations, games) were minority preferences. Almost half of respondents in both groups were unable to readily access the information they sought. Alcohol website users placed greater importance on several AOD website tools and functions than did those accessing other drug websites: online screening tools (χ²2 = 15.8, P < .001, n = 985); prevention programs (χ²2 = 27.5, P < .001, n = 981); tracking functions (χ²2 = 11.5, P = .003, n = 983); self help treatment programs (χ²2 = 8.3, P = .02, n = 984); downloadable fact sheets for friends (χ²2 = 11.6, P = .003, n = 981); or family (χ²2 = 12.7, P = .002, n = 983). The most preferred online treatment option for both the user groups was an Internet site with email therapist support. Explorations of demographic differences were also performed. While gender did not affect survey responses, younger respondents were more likely to value interactive and social networking features, whereas downloading of credible information was most highly valued by older respondents. ----- ----- Conclusions: Significant deficiencies in the provision of accessible information on AOD websites were identified, an important problem since information seeking was the most common reason for accessing these websites, and, therefore, may be a key avenue for engaging website users in behaviour change. The few differences between AOD website users suggested that both types of websites may have similar features, although alcohol website users may more readily be engaged in screening, prevention and self-help programs, tracking change, and may value fact sheets more highly. While the sociodemographic differences require replication and clarification, these differences support the notion that the design and features of AOD websites should target specific audiences to have maximal impact.

Impact and interest:

7 citations in Scopus
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4 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 40377
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Alcohol, Drugs, Internet, Online Survey, Stress, Health, Website Interactivity, Website Trustworthiness, Web-Based Interventions
DOI: 10.2196/jmir.1449
ISSN: 1438-8871
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > INFORMATION SYSTEMS (080600)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Health Clinical and Counselling Psychology (170106)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 Britt Klein, Angela White, David Kavanagh, Kerrie Shandley, Frances Kay-Lambkin, Judith Proudfoot, Judy Drennan, Jason Connor, Amanda Baker, Ross Young.
Copyright Statement: http://www.jmir.org/2010/5/e51/ Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 19.12.2010 This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Deposited On: 02 Mar 2011 07:56
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 00:29

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