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

Klein, B, White, A, Kavanagh, D, Shandley, K, Kay-Lambkin, F, Proudfoot, J, Drennan, J, Connor, J, Baker, A and Young, R (2010) Content and functionality of alcohol and other drug websites: Results of an online survey. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 12 5: e51.1-e51.12. doi:10.2196/jmir.1449

Author Klein, B
White, A
Kavanagh, D
Shandley, K
Kay-Lambkin, F
Proudfoot, J
Drennan, J
Connor, J
Baker, A
Young, R
Title Content and functionality of alcohol and other drug websites: Results of an online survey
Journal name Journal of Medical Internet Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1438-8871
Publication date 2010-12-19
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2196/jmir.1449
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 12
Issue 5
Start page e51.1
End page e51.12
Total pages 12
Place of publication Toronto, Canada
Publisher Journal of Medical Internet Research
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted 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.
© Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.
Keyword Alcohol
Online survey
Website interactivity
Website trustworthiness
Web-based interventions
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online only. Article number e51, pp. 1-12.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences -- Publications
Official 2011 Collection
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 11 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 14 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 06 Feb 2011, 00:06:21 EST