Erectile Dysfunction and the Internet: Drug Company Manipulation of Public and Professional Opinion

a School of Psychology , University of Auckland , Auckland , New Zealand.
Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy (Impact Factor: 1.27). 04/2013; 39(6). DOI: 10.1080/0092623X.2012.736922
Source: PubMed


Given that the Internet is now a major source of information regarding health and mental health problems, and that it is in the interest of the pharmaceutical industry to influence public and professional opinion, this study evaluated 70 websites about erectile dysfunction. The 31 drug company-funded websites (44%) were, compared with the 39 websites that are not industry funded, significantly more biased toward biological factors in general, and toward medication in particular (p < .01). The high proportion of websites that are industry sponsored, and the bias of those websites, confirms previous studies on depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and demonstrates that drug companies are using their financial might to manipulate public and professional opinion on the Internet.

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Available from: John Read, Oct 28, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Objective The pharmaceutical industry exercises pervasive influence in the mental health field. The internet has become a primary source of mental health information for the public and practitioners. This study therefore compared mental health websites funded and not funded by drug companies. MethodA systematic literature review of studies examining the role of drug companies in the funding of mental health websites was conducted, followed by a meta-analysis of studies comparing drug company-funded (DCF) sites with sites not funded by the industry. ResultsMental health websites, in general, overemphasize biogenetic causal explanations and medication. Many mental health websites (42%) are either drug company owned (6%) or receive funding from drug companies (36%). A meta-analysis found that DCF sites are significantly more biased toward biogenetic causes (P<0.01) and toward medication (P<0.0001) than sites that are financially independent of the industry. Conclusion Practitioners are encouraged to inform patients about the bias inherent in industry-sponsored websites and to recommend, instead, more balanced websites that present a range of evidence-based information about causes and treatments.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica