Health Information: What Sources Do People Trust?

health information

Finding accurate and reliable health information has become more confusing for patients than ever before. By examining where patients are getting their information — for example, from trained healthcare professionals or their peers — and their ability to determine the most reliable sources can help the industry and patients better understand the importance of providing reliable health information and the value of patient-to-patient discussions.

We recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers about challenges and perceptions around finding accurate and reliable health information. Here’s what we discovered:

Being Your Own Advocate, with the Help of Trusted Sources

When asked what type of health information they looked for most often, consumers stated that symptoms (31%) and treatment options (21%) are what they look for most. 43% of respondents say that they use their doctor as a resource to evaluate new treatment options, while only 2% say they rely on peer groups.

What does this mean?

The state of the healthcare industry overall is influx, which means it can be easy for patients to get lost in the shuffle, as many health systems are understaffed and strapped for resources. Now more than ever, patients need to become their own advocates and ensure that they are seeking support from reputable sources to supplement their care. We see this as a “missed opportunity” for so many patients. There is so much value for patients, especially those dealing with chronic conditions, to get support and ideas for new treatments from people who have the disease they are researching and dealing with on their own.

The Importance of Data Sharing

43% of respondents don’t have a system in place to track and manage their health information from multiple providers. 80% are comfortable or very comfortable using a mobile app to manage your health and wellness.

What does this mean?

It’s no secret that healthcare overall tends to lag in comparison to other industries when it comes to the experiences consumers get in other aspects of their life (retail, banking, etc.). Therefore, it is not surprising that consumers don’t feel like they have a place to track their medical history digitally. The benefits of having your own personal patient history in the palm of your hand, however, including the data from wearable devices, would be a game-changer for patients to better manage their health holistically.

Want to learn more? Take a look at the findings below!

A Deeper Dive into the Data:

What type of health information do you look for most often?

  • Symptoms – 31%
  • Comorbidities – 1%
  • Treatment options – 21%
  • Wellness / Mind-body / holistic info – 18%
  • Behavioral health factors – 6%
  • News that impacts public health – 13%
  • Other – 10%

Where do you look for reliable health information?

  • News (NBC, CNN, FOX, etc.) – 16%
  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) – 11%
  • Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc.) – 39%
  • Symptom Checker Websites (WebMD, Mayo Clinic, etc.) – 34%

What resources do you use to evaluate new treatment options?

  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) – 9%
  • Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc.) – 23%
  • Symptom Checker Websites (WebMD, Mayo Clinic, etc.) – 23%
  • Your doctor – 43%
  • Peer groups – 2%

Where do you look for reliable information about medication side effects?

  • Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) – 7%
  • Search Engines (Google, Bing, etc.) – 29%
  • Symptom Checker Websites (WebMD, Mayo Clinic, etc.) – 26%
  • Your doctor – 37%
  • Peer groups – 1%

Who do you most often discuss health information findings with?

  • Friends and family – 49%
  • Coworkers – 4%
  • Community groups (Patient groups, religious groups, support groups etc.) – 5%
  • Your doctor – 42%

Who would you trust most for health information?

  • The news – 3%
  • Your doctor – 76%
  • Friends and family – 9%
  • Someone living with the condition – 10%
  • Social media – 2%

Where do you find peer support for your medical conditions?

  • Social media – 10%
  • Friends and family – 67%
  • Coworkers – 3%
  • Patient support groups – 7%
  • Religious community group – 3%
  • Other – 10%

How do you integrate/make sense of your health data from multiple providers?

  • Keep track with notes (physical or digital) – 34%
  • Record conversations with providers – 8%
  • Store data in a mobile app – 15%
  • I don’t have a system in place to track and manage my health – 43%

How has the pandemic affected how you look for reliable health information?

  • It has made it more complicated – 34%
  • It has made it less complicated – 12%
  • It has not affected how I look for reliable health information – 54%

How comfortable would you be to use a mobile app to manage your health and wellness?

  • Very comfortable – 34%
  • Comfortable – 46%
  • Uncomfortable – 21%
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