Monday, September 17, 2007

Schizophrenia, According to Websites--Depends on Who's Buying

John Read in New Zealand has done a nice little study of the way that schizophrenia is portrayed on websites. He looked at 50 websites that purported to provide patient and public education about the disease; somewhat over half acknowledged funding from pharmaceutical companies. Those getting such funding were more likely to portray schizophrenia as a biological disease with genetic determinants and to gloss over any psychosocial contributing factors, to stress the debilitating and chronic nature of the disease, and to warn about possible violence if one stops taking one's medications.

Read in passing mentions a nice quote from a thoughtful column by the 2005 President of the American Psychiatric Association, Steven S. Sharfstein: "As we address these Big Pharma issues, we must examine the fact that as a profession, we have allowed the biopsychosocial model to become the bio-bio-bio model."

Read J. Schizophrenia, drug companies, and the internet. Soc Sci Med (2007), doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.07.027.

Sharfstein SS. Big Pharma and American psychiatry: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Psychiatric News 40(16):3-4, 2005;

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