Three quarters of consumers find conflicting health advice online


Four in five people (79%) turn to the internet for health information and advice; an act which could put them at risk of making poor decisions. New research from Bupa reveals that more than three quarters (84%) of adults in the UK who have searched online for health information admit finding conflicting healthcare information, leaving many feeling confused (30%), frustrated (20%), concerned or anxious (14%) when asked to select the best option that applies.

Worryingly, the research which polled over 2,000 UK adults online, also found that only two in five (41%) said they would be likely to visit a medical professional after reading healthcare advice online.

Commenting, Dr Paula Franklin, Medical Director for Bupa UK, said:

“It is hardly surprising that people are feeling confused and frustrated when looking for health advice online, given the amount of information out there. People want to know more about their health and wellbeing than ever before so it is essential that they know where to get trusted and clinically approved advice, and are aware of the risks of reading unqualified health information.”

There is a clear need for more help in navigating healthcare information online. More than three quarters of those questioned (76%) said they would find it useful if medically approved healthcare advice displayed a ‘quality mark’ from an official regulator. Yet nearly three-quarters of people (73%) have not heard of The Information Standard (a government-backed organisation which awards a quality mark to reliable sources of information such as NHS Choices and Bupa UK). Any printed information or webpage displaying this quality mark has gone through a rigorous assessment to check that the information is reliable and trustworthy.

While its reassuring that 44% of people questioned would trust a website that has been backed by the government (such as The Information Standard) when searching for health advice, worryingly one in ten (11%) would trust health advice if the website “looks professional”, while a similar number (9%) would feel a website is ‘trustworthy’ if it appears high up in an internet search.

Dr Paula Franklin adds:

“I strongly urge people to look for one of the many qualified websites that are marked with the Information Standard’s quality mark when searching for health information online, and to always access personal advice from a healthcare professional before taking a course of action.”

Dan Wills, Assessment and Development Manager, The Information Standard said:

“Across England, thousands of organisations produce health and care information for the public which varies greatly in terms of quality and reliability. With the use of smart phones and tablets we have large amounts of this information at our finger tips but how can you tell which information is trustworthy? The Information Standard is one method by which to check the information you are reading. Any information baring The Information Standard logo has been produced following a robust process that has evidence and their target audience at the center, so you can be assured it is not only from a reliable source but also explained in a way you will find useful.”

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