Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Health stories by experts more credible than blogs

Date:
February 5, 2010
Source:
Penn State
Summary:
Health information written by a doctor is rated as more credible when it appears on a website than in a blog or a homepage, according to a study of college students.

Health information written by a doctor is rated as more credible when it appears on a website than in a blog or a homepage, according to a study of college students.

The findings highlight the relative importance of different online sources to people who seek health information on the Internet.

"Most people look for health information online by keying disease symptoms into various search engines," said S. Shyam Sundar, distinguished professor of communications, Penn State. "But the results of that search could range from experts at the Mayo Clinic to somebody's personal blog."

Sundar and his colleague Yifeng Hu, lead author and assistant professor of communications, College of New Jersey, Ewing, N.J., study how people evaluate and act on online health information.

"We are looking at accuracy and believability," explained Sundar. "We want to see how people act on the advice they receive, and whether they recommend it to others or forward it to friends online."

Researchers found that study participants were more likely to believe -- and make use of -- information on a website from a source identified as an expert than from a layperson. Health information on the websites of TV, radio, and newspapers was not included in the study.

Participants also believed that editors and moderators help websites present accurate and complete information. Blogs, homepages, and social networking sites were seen as lacking such gatekeeping. The findings appear in the February issue of Communication Research.

Sundar and Hu presented 555 college students with screenshots of one of two health articles, attributed either to a doctor or to a layperson. Students received these articles as either from a formal website, individual homepage, a blog, a bulletin board -- a chat site where people can post messages -- or were simply told that they came from the Internet.

The first article discouraged the use of sunscreen to avoid Vitamin D deficiency, while the second advocated the consumption of raw milk over pasteurized milk.

"We wanted to find out if users differentiate between various sources of online information and how that choice impacts their decisions," said Sundar. "The health topics were controversial enough to raise questions of credibility among readers."

Statistical analyses of student questionnaires suggest that screenshots of both health topics were seen as significantly more reliable when attributed to a doctor and featured on a website rather than on a blog, individual homepage or a bulletin board.

"It tells us that young people are actually differentiating between different online sources when evaluating health information on the Internet," said Sundar.

Students were also significantly more likely to follow up on the advice they had received through websites and bulletin boards -- compared to blogs and homepages -- by acting on it and sharing it with friends.

Sundar believes that additional use of expert sources could help online bulletin boards gain greater credibility.

"It is the future of how health information will be distributed over the Internet," said Sundar. "If doctors are serious about disseminating health information, they should do it on a bulletin board instead of a homepage."

The Korea Science and Engineering Foundation supported this work.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Penn State. "Health stories by experts more credible than blogs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100205102603.htm>.
Penn State. (2010, February 5). Health stories by experts more credible than blogs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100205102603.htm
Penn State. "Health stories by experts more credible than blogs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100205102603.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microsoft to Buy 'Minecraft' Maker for $2.5B

Microsoft to Buy 'Minecraft' Maker for $2.5B

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) Microsoft will acquire the maker of the long-running hit game Minecraft for $2.5 billion as the company continues to invest in its Xbox gaming platform and looks to grab attention on mobile phones. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Manufacturer Prints 3-D Car In Record Time

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) Automobile manufacturer Local Motors created a drivable electric car using a 3-D printer. Printing the body only took 44 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
What $2.5B Deal Could Mean For Microsoft, 'Minecraft'

What $2.5B Deal Could Mean For Microsoft, 'Minecraft'

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) While Microsoft looks to be expanding its mobile business, the creators of "Minecraft" are stepping aside. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Frustration As Drone Industry Outpaces Regulation In U.S.

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) U.S. firms worry they’re falling behind in the marketplace as the FAA considers how to regulate commercial drones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins