Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

A comparative study of strategies for identifying credible sources of mental health information online: Can clinical services deliver a youth-specific internet prescription?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mary Tacchi, Emeritus Professor Jan Scott


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd. Background: Adolescents and young adults undertake internet searches before and after attending mental health consultations, but they express concerns about how they can identify reliable online mental health information (OMHI). This action research project examines how clinicians might direct young people towards credible OMHI by analysing which search strategies are most helpful for developing an ‘internet prescription’ targeted at a youth audience. Methods: Recently qualified doctors undertook searches for OMHI about the diagnosis and treatment of seven mental health conditions. Rankings of websites in search results were compared with reliability and quality ratings derived from established evaluation instruments [the Brief DISCERN and the 12-item Health on the Net (HoN) tool]. Results: Of 140 websites identified through seven Google searches, only 15% of those evaluated were categorized as high quality. About 17% of websites were selling a treatment or service and about 25% were regarded as untrustworthy. Also, higher rankings in the search results were not indicative of better quality OMHI (Wilcoxon signed rank test: Z = −5.28; p <.001). Although the HoN and DISCERN tools provided useful insights into the credibility of OMHI, investigators did not think either instrument could be recommended for independent use by youth. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that clinical services should take responsibility for identifying a range of credible sources of OMHI. The next step in translating the research strategy into clinical practice involves collaboration with young people to select those platforms most orientated to their needs and to develop rating instruments that enable youth to evaluate OMHI.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Flint M, Inglis G, Hill A, Mair M, Hatrick S, Tacchi MJ, Scott J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Early Intervention in Psychiatry

Year: 2022

Volume: 16

Issue: 6

Pages: 643-650

Print publication date: 01/06/2022

Online publication date: 02/09/2021

Acceptance date: 15/08/2021

ISSN (print): 1751-7885

ISSN (electronic): 1751-7893

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/eip.13209


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric