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Assessment of function and clinical utility of alcohol and other drug web sites : an observational, qualitative study

Kay-Lambkin, Frances J., White, Angela, Baker, Amanda L., Kavanagh, David J., Klein, Britt, Proudfoot, Judith, Drennan, Judy, Connor, Jason, & Young, Ross M. (2011) Assessment of function and clinical utility of alcohol and other drug web sites : an observational, qualitative study. BMC Public Health, 11(1), pp. 277-287.

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Abstract

Background The increasing popularity and use of the internet makes it an attractive option for providing health information and treatment, including alcohol/other drug use. There is limited research examining how people identify and access information about alcohol or other drug (AOD) use online, or how they assess the usefulness of the information presented. This study examined the strategies that individuals used to identify and navigate a range of AOD websites, along with the attitudes concerning presentation and content.

Methods Members of the general community in Brisbane and Roma (Queensland, Australia) were invited to participate in a 30-minute search of the internet for sites related to AOD use, followed by a focus group discussion. Fifty one subjects participated in the study across nine focus groups.

Results Participants spent a maximum of 6.5 minutes on any one website, and less if the user was under 25 years of age. Time spent was as little as 2 minutes if the website was not the first accessed. Participants recommended that AOD-related websites should have an engaging home or index page, which quickly and accurately portrayed the site’s objectives, and provided clear site navigation options. Website content should clearly match the title and description of the site that is used by internet search engines. Participants supported the development of a portal for AOD websites, suggesting that it would greatly facilitate access and navigation.

Treatment programs delivered online were initially viewed with caution. This appeared to be due to limited understanding of what constituted online treatment, including its potential efficacy.

Conclusions A range of recommendations arise from this study regarding the design and development of websites, particularly those related to AOD use. These include prudent use of text and information on any one webpage, the use of graphics and colours, and clear, uncluttered navigation options. Implications for future website development are discussed.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 49401
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Substance Use, Alcohol, Online Treatment, Web Intervention, Internet-Based Intervention
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-277
ISSN: 1471-2458
Subjects: 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 > QUT Business School
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: © 2011 Kay-Lambkin et al; Licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Copyright Statement: 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 is properly cited.
Deposited On: 28 Mar 2012 22:08
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2012 22:52

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