Faced with a minefield of information of variable quality, health consumers subject websites to an initial weeding-out process that will eliminate most NHS and drug company websites from the search within a matter of seconds.
The study, carried out by Professor Pamela Briggs at Northumbria University, together with colleagues at both Northumbria and Sheffield Universities, explored how health consumers decide whether or not to trust the information and advice they find online.
The researchers observed the search strategies of people who wanted to find specific health information and advice (about hypertension, menopause and HRT, the MMR vaccine, or generally improving their health and fitness) and found that many websites were dismissed at quite amazing speeds.
“One thing that really put people off was advertising, so people clicked off drug company websites straight away”, explains Professor Briggs. “Generally, the medical information on drug company sites is very accurate but people question the authors’ motivation and agenda. The issue of impartiality is quite crucial in building trust.”
The NHS websites fared little better. Often these were rejected because the first page participants were directed to was a portal or had too much background or generic content. “People don’t have the patience to scroll through pages in order to find something useful. Ease of access is so important”, says Professor Briggs.
Even if a site makes a favourable first impression, it is unlikely to keep our attention if there are no personal stories that we can relate to. People are looking for advice from like-minded people and are drawn to sites such as the charity based DIPEx and ProjectAWARE where they can read about the experiences of other people who have the same problems and concerns.
Despite rejecting many of the more ‘reputable’ sites, participants in this study did manage to find information of reasonable quality. But Professor Briggs warns that our searching strategy has the potential to let us down:
The tendency to particularly trust sites that contain contributions from like-minded peers could have dangerous effects on some groups of consumers, such as those with anorexia, by reinforcing unhealthy behaviour patterns, she explains.
The researchers have developed a set of guidelines for designing engaging and trustworthy sites and have shown that trustworthy sites have more influence on consumer behaviour.
They found that moderate to heavy drinkers who viewed trustworthy websites describing the health risks involved with alcohol consumption reduced their alcohol intake more than those who viewed the same information on a site with untrustworthy features such as adverts or links to pharmaceutical companies.
But the most important advice for those trying to promote health information on-line is to use engaging stories about people with similar experiences. Professor Briggs concludes:
“The great strength of the internet is that you can find people who have had the same problem that you have and see how they have coped with it – to forget about that, or to act as if it’s not happening, is missing the point.”
Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering
Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.03.2018 | Life Sciences