Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Quality of information sources about mental disorders: a comparison of Wikipedia with centrally controlled web and printed sources

N. J. Reavleya1 c1, A. J. Mackinnona1, A. J. Morgana1, M. Alvarez-Jimeneza1, S. E. Hetricka1, E. Killackeya1, B. Nelsona1, R. Purcella1, M. B. H. Yapa1 and A. F. Jorma1

a1 Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, Australia

Abstract

Background Although mental health information on the internet is often of poor quality, relatively little is known about the quality of websites, such as Wikipedia, that involve participatory information sharing. The aim of this paper was to explore the quality of user-contributed mental health-related information on Wikipedia and compare this with centrally controlled information sources.

Method Content on 10 mental health-related topics was extracted from 14 frequently accessed websites (including Wikipedia) providing information about depression and schizophrenia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a psychiatry textbook. The content was rated by experts according to the following criteria: accuracy, up-to-dateness, breadth of coverage, referencing and readability.

Results Ratings varied significantly between resources according to topic. Across all topics, Wikipedia was the most highly rated in all domains except readability.

Conclusions The quality of information on depression and schizophrenia on Wikipedia is generally as good as, or better than, that provided by centrally controlled websites, Encyclopaedia Britannica and a psychiatry textbook.

(Received August 22 2011)

(Revised November 08 2011)

(Accepted November 14 2011)

(Online publication December 14 2011)

Correspondence

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr N. J. Reavley, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Locked Bag 10, Parkville, VIC 3052, Australia. (Email: nreavley@unimelb.edu.au)

Metrics