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Preferences and trust in traditional and non-traditional sources of health information - a study of middle to older aged Australian adults
Background: Health professionals commonly use the internet to disseminate information to a large audience to promote change in health knowledge and behaviours. Many individuals use the internet in addition to other media and personal sources of health information, and trust in a source is recognized as a key factor to use of a particular source. Understanding trust in sources of Preferences and trust in traditional and nontraditional sources of health information is important for delivering effective health communication. Methods: A Computer-Assisted-Telephone-Interview (CATI) of adults (N = 1128; 50% female; mean age 59.8 years (SD 13.0)) was conducted in Australia. Logistic regression analyses were used to investigate associations between use of the internet for health information and a range of socio-demographic and health factors, and trust in media and personal sources of health information. Results: One-third of participants (33%) were classified as users of the internet for health information. General Practitioners were the most trusted personal source (88%), and websites (30%) and printed brochures (29%) were the most trusted media sources. Use was more likely in younger age groups and in females employed in white-collar work (OR 2.00, P = 0.04) and males who were diagnosed with diabetes (OR 2.27, P = 0.02) and who trusted health professionals other than GPs (OR 6.49, P = 0.004). Conclusions: The internet as a source of health information is not trusted or used by all population groups and a range of media and personal sources should continue to be used to ensure health information reaches all. Health professionals should assess the digital readiness of their target groups before disseminating health information.