Survey shows that the Public Trust Physicians More than the Internet for Cancer Health Information
Data from the NCI's Health Information Trends Survey (HINTS) shows that despite a decade's worth of exposure to health information on the Internet, the public's trust in physicians as their preferred source of health information has remained high and, if anything, increased from 2002 to 2008. Conversely, trust in health information from the Internet or from other sources decreased during the same period.
Akinso: Despite a decade's worth of exposure to health information on the Internet, the public's trust in physicians as their preferred source of cancer health information has remained high.
Hesse: People trust physicians more and the information they get from physicians while still going on the internet and they trust the information on the internet less.
Akinso: Dr. Bradford Hesse is the Chief of the National Cancer Institute's Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch.
Hesse: So we think that link back to physicians, is going to grow, it’s going to be even more important.
Akinso: According to NCI's Health Information National Trends Survey—HINTS, the public's trust in cancer health information from the Internet and other sources has decreased while the trust in physicians has increased. Dr. Hesse explains how they were able to abstract this information using HINTS.
Hesse: The Health Information National Trends Surveyor is a biennial survey, it's a population survey. We have typically used random digit dial to reach all adults in the United States. We also had a paper sample frame, that means a paper based instrument, and we did that through the postal service because we know more people don’t have landlines anymore.
Akinso: Dr. Hesse provides some explanations into possible reasons for increase and decrease of trust between physician information and other sources such as the internet.
Hesse: As we get into all the questions within the survey, we try to figure out why it is that people not getting away from their physicians but actually express a greater need to talk to their physicians. What we think is going on is that the internet is just the "Wild West". There’s just so much information out there. There's spam. There are people with ulterior motives. There is unleveled quality out there. And because of that, people recognize that they can't rely solely on the internet for credible information that they need for their health. Instead they really value the vetted credibility of a physician and, if anything, want to reach out to that physician that much more.
Akinso: HINTS is a biennial national survey of the American public conducted by the NCI’s Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch. The survey collects nationally representative data about the American public's use of cancer-related information. To view this survey, visit hints.cancer.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Bradford Hesse
Topic: Cancer, Health Information, HINTS