Currently accepted at: JMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Date Submitted: Jun 23, 2016
Open Peer Review Period: Jan 10, 2018 - Jan 24, 2018
Date Accepted: Jul 27, 2017
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Trust in Health Information Sources: Survey Analysis of Variation by Sociodemographic and Tobacco Use Status in Oklahoma
Modern technology (ie, websites and social media) has significantly changed social mores in health information access and delivery. Although mass media campaigns for health intervention have proven effective and cost-effective in changing health behavior at a population scale, this is best studied in traditional media sources (ie, radio and television). Digital health interventions are options that use short message service/text messaging, social media, and internet technology. Although exposure to these products is becoming ubiquitous, electronic health information is novel, incompletely disseminated, and frequently inaccurate, which decreases public trust. Previous research has shown that audience trust in health care providers significantly moderates health outcomes, demographics significantly influence audience trust in electronic media, and preexisting health behaviors such as smoking status significantly moderate audience receptivity to traditional mass media. Therefore, modern health educators must assess audience trust in all sources, both media (traditional and digital) and interpersonal, to balance pros and cons before structuring multicomponent community health interventions.
We aimed to explore current trust and moderators of trust in health information sources given recent changes in digital health information access and delivery to inform design of future health interventions in Oklahoma.
We conducted phone surveys of a cross-sectional sample of 1001 Oklahoma adults (age 18-65 years) in spring 2015 to assess trust in seven media sources: traditional (television and radio), electronic (online and social media), and interpersonal (providers, insurers, and family/friends). We also gathered information on known moderators of trust (sociodemographics and tobacco use status). We modeled log odds of a participant rating a source as â€œtrustworthyâ€ (SAS PROC SURVEYLOGISTIC), with subanalysis for confounders (sociodemographics and tobacco use).
Oklahomans showed the highest trust in interpersonal sources: 81% (808/994) reported providers were trustworthy, 55% (550/999) for friends and family, and 48% (485/998) for health insurers. For media sources, 24% of participants (232/989) rated the internet as trustworthy, followed by 21% of participants for television (225/998), 18% for radio (199/988), and only 11% for social media (110/991). Despite this low self-reported trust in social media, 40% (406/991) of participants reported using social media for tobacco-related health information. Trust in health providers did not vary by subpopulation, but sociodemographic variables (gender, income, and education) and tobacco use status significantly moderated trust in other sources. Women were on the whole more trusting than men, trust in media decreased with income, and trust in friends and family decreased with education.
Health education interventions should incorporate digital media, particularly when targeting low-income populations. Utilizing health care providers in social media settings could leverage high-trust and low-cost features of providers and social media, respectively.
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