The Right Click? Explore levels of trust in online information.

We live in a world where technology is ever present and access to the internet is always-on. A wealth of information is available not only at the click of a mouse but in the palm of our hands, with the growth of smartphones in particular making information instantly available when required.

But with the enormous volume of healthcare content online, how can the public navigate the myriad of information that is available? Is having such an easily accessible resource a hindrance or a help when it comes to managing our health?

 

Does it provide reassurance or create concern? How do we discern between reputable sources and those that may contain misinformation? What sites can we trust and what are the cues that help us to do so?

 

As part of MSD Ireland’s ‘My Healthcare, My Future’ research series, this study sought to examine the experiences, perceptions and expectations of Irish people when going online for healthcare information.

This research has demonstrated that there are vast resources available for information on one’s health that are widely used by the public, yet are fraught with challenges. There is no definitive accreditation process for online health information. How can the public make a conclusive determination as to whether or not the source they use is of benefit and that its content is accurate, relevant and can be trusted?

“With websites, my biggest concern is that it’s impossible to tell the genuine ones from the non-genuine ones. I say to patients, if you want to look this up, I’ll give you the names of some reliable websites. It’s something that I think in many ways should be regulated, but will we ever see that become a reality?”

Dr. Maitiú Ó Tuathail, President, National Association of General Practitioners

“The internet is a wonderful place to find information, but it’s also a place of so much more misinformation than you would find traditionally in newspapers or magazines, radio or television. So the internet is obviously hugely important and hugely valuable but it is also a place where there’s much misinformation including deliberately false information and information put there for commercial purposes.”

Peter Feeney, Press Ombudsman

“We all need a level of health literacy in order to be able to understand and control information that pertains to our health. There’s recognition that as part of health policy in Ireland, under Healthy Ireland, we all need to develop our health literacy.”

Inez Bailey, CEO, National Adult Literacy Agency

Access the full report here.

0000-0000-0000|Date of preparation: April 2019