Why trust is driving people to web social networks for health information

Interesting article by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn on why trust is driving people to web social networks for health information.

The author asserts that:

While searching is still the No.1 use of the Internet in health care, social media are growing in importance as consumers’ preferred online channels for health knowledge… Within Internet social media, the most popular health site is Wikipedia, which is used by about one in five adults, followed by online forums, social networks (such as MySpace, Facebook and Second Life), video-sharing, blogs and live chat rooms.

The author cites findings from the 2006 Edelman Trust Barometer which identified the steady decline of trust in traditional figures of authority, and the increase in the credibility of the “average person.” This trend coincide with the growth and increasing credibility of Internet communications that enabled access to peer opinions.

The author suggests that people go online for health-social networking:

  • to see what other people using medication or receiving treatment have to say about their experiences
  • to learn skills or get education that helps them manage a health condition

This certainly resonates with my own and my families experiences of seeking out information about issues affecting our health. Talking of which I’m just about to check out wikipedia to find sources of information about suggested treatments for my current ear infection!

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