Patients prefer health media sites to user-generated content for medical info, says survey

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Consumers continue to trust health magazines, websites and WebMD more than user-generated contribution sites like Wikipedia, Facebook or Twitter for medical information, according to a survey.

More than half of the adults surveyed – 54% – had consulted user-generated content for health info – compared to 68% who'd sought out info on news sites. However, almost half (48%) had searched WebMD.

Facebook sites are the fourth most-frequented source, according to the survey of 1,000 adults, conducted by Makovsky + Company, with 11% of Americans looking for medical info there. But Facebook sites created by peers were ranked the least trusted by 26% of respondents (Facebook sites for patient groups and communities fared much better).

Overall, patient communities' sites were visited by a scant 7% of respondents. Pharma company-sponsored pages ranked dead last for visits, with just 6% of respondents visiting disease awareness pages and branded treatment pages.

The results indicate a tiered approach to health info online that privileges trusted brands over user-generated content, said Makovsky execs.

“Peer to peer communication establishes an emotional, ‘tell me your story' connection,” said Makovsky health practice leader Gil Bashe. “Yet when it comes to healthcare information, patients still trust the experts.”
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