Thirty-eight percent of U.S. adults (or 85.6 million people) say they have doubted a medical professional’s opinion or diagnosis because it conflicted with information they found online. However, despite the growing power of the Internet, the majority of Americans still view health providers as their most trusted source of medical information.
Previous research indicates that trust in Internet resources is not widespread. However, this study suggests credibility may be influenced by who is authoring the content. Thirteen percent of Americans say they would consult medical professional-developed information posted on blogs, online forums or other Websites first if they believed they had a health condition or disease.
This study reveals that most adult Americans instinctually trust health providers. However, increasingly, they are using online information to critically evaluate medical advice. It also suggests that trust in government and non-profits has significantly eroded. Finally, health communicators and marketers should resist overestimating the impact of patient-generated online content on medical decision-making.