Kolabtree, the world’s largest platform for freelance scientists and researchers, recently conducted research that sheds light on the general public’s attitude to medical information online. With the study, Kolabtree aimed to investigate how reliant and trusting the public is regarding medical information found on the internet and whether they favoured ‘Dr Google’ over their own GP’s knowledge and experience. The survey also explored the public’s attitude toward the monitoring of medical information.
The survey was carried out in light of Google’s August 2018 Medic update. Google has not explicitly confirmed that this algorithm targeted health-related websites. But many have drawn this conclusion, suggesting that Google is now penalising sites for false or misleading health-related content, which saw many websites tank in rankings. The belief now is that Google is heavily monitoring quality factors to decide what medical content should be most visible online.
“Arguably, the Google Medic Update was the most important update of 2018. It placed a heavy emphasis on quality and trustworthy health content. On Kolabtree, we regularly assist organisations looking to hire qualified experts who can write or review medical content. Anything that can stop the spread of misleading health content is a good thing for the general public.” — Jonathan Hedger, Marketing Director.
The survey asked the following questions:
- Where do you get your health information from?
- Do you think that platforms such as Facebook and Google should take steps to reduce the spread of medical information by people with little or no medical training?
- When you feel ill or experience unusual symptoms, what do you do first?
- Have you ever misdiagnosed yourself after reading medical content online?
Key Findings Revealed by the 2019 Survey
Among many other findings, the survey revealed the following:
- While people are more likely to get their health information online these days, the majority of people (56.8%) still call their GP immediately when they feel ill, rather than Googling their symptoms first
- Those aged 65+ are the least likely to fall prey to bad medical information online, as 80.8% of them call their GP immediately when they feel ill
- Women are more likely to go to their doctor for medical information than men (60% vs 53.4%)
- Women tend to trust government health websites, while men opt for sites that rank well
- Older generations are more in favour of regulating medical information online than younger generations
- 44.1% of 18-24-year-olds have misdiagnosed themselves after reading medical content online
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