The survey also asked about the confidence the respondents felt in the information they harvested from different sources. Health advocacy groups emerged as a particularly trusted source of online health information: 71% judged Web content of such groups "somewhat reliable" or "extremely reliable". While more than half (59%) felt that way about organic Google searches.
Online communities continue to trail significantly. Only 12% of respondents used online forums in their last search for health information, and only 37% considered forums reliable.
The survey revealed significant differences in the way various segments of society use online communities. African Americans and Gen-Xers are significantly more likely to consider them reliable sources of information. Younger respondents were also much less likely to see pharmacists as reliable sources of information, perhaps reflecting the more impersonal relationship they have with chain pharmacists compared to their parents¹ long-standing reliance on the mom-and-pop operations that used to dominate the landscape.
"We found it interesting that popularity and trust don¹t always go hand-in-hand. People are quick to search the Web for health information, just as they use it for most other questions today. But when it comes time to make a decision, their trust resides where it always has in people. This insight can be instructive to organizations working to combine health expertise with new strategies for communication." - Karen Albritton, Capstrat.
- 32% of African Americans cited Google as the most influence source for health decisions, compared to only 15% of Hispanics who found Google influential
- 63% of women considered Google reliable on health, compared to 53% of men
- 53% of respondents ages 30 to 45 found online forums to be reliable, compared to only 37 percent of respondents ages 46 to 65
- 65% found a phone conversation with a nurse to be somewhat or extremely reliable.
Another example of the power of search in the healthcare arena, there are many more where these came from...