Trust at the cost of health

Trust and credibility is a very interesting topic relates to social media and that was investigated in our last lecture. The main question about trust in online and mobile media is how much the users trust to different information from different resources and how these resources build and mountain credibility. There is the much more interesting aspect relates to social media and the question about trust. This is the use of online and mobile media for searching health information.

You probably agree that one thing when we only read political news and assume that this is truth and it is the totally different situation when people trust to information relates their health. However, according some research, about ninety per cent of respondent 18 to 24 years of aged said that they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks. Other survey’s results show that 46% people have change health decisions due to information found online. It means that social media have an increased amount of credibility in last several years.

From the inphographic bellow you can see, how the use of social media in healthcare has changed in recent years.


But why people trust these resources more than doctors prescriptions?

I think, that the more logical explanation for this we can found if we would compare the situations when people get health information traditionally from the doctor with the situation when they use Internet.

Traditional way is very complicated relates to credibility. When we go to doctors and we get an diagnose and prescription from them we should trust them unconditionally. It means, that we should believe that this is a good doctor, that he has an appropriate qualifications, experience, and also he or she has had similar patients and the results of their treatments were successful. However, we usually can’t check all these hypothesis. Possibly, we can find evidences for some of them. For example, we can see the diploma from prestigious University on the wall, or can hear some recommendations from our friends, but usually we can check nothing. Thus we should trust doctors without any reasons.

Secondly, the communication between doctor and patient usually has the one way direction, it means that the doctor provides information, that a patient should except. Patients can ask some questions, but they usually don’t have enough knowing that to maintain a conversation on the similar level. Therefore, often this conversations stop very quick and patients stay disappointed about it. Also, many people think, that doctors don’t tell all truth because they don’t want to upset us, because it can negatively influence to the treatment. We can see that the situation with tradition media is very similar to the example with doctors. Because usually our trust to tradition media based on our unconditional belief that they should always tell truth. We also don’t feel any personal connection with these sources of information therefore their trustfulness has reduced. Finally, communication with traditional media has one way direction too. As a result, it’s difficult to specify any facts or their interpretations if we want to.

There is a totally different situation, when information goes from the social media. Patients have a possibility to check different sources of information, as more as they can find. Also, from the comments and feedbacks they can build credibility to certain sources. Moreover, there is very important that patients can find comments from the people with the same medical issues, it means that this communication help people to feel as a part of a community. It gives a hope and more positive perception of the situation.

The most important difference between these two approaches to find health information is that the second one gives opportunity for two way communication. Patients can ask as more question as they have and also they can ask the same questions from the different resources and finally to make a decision based on comparing different answers, that means more analytical way to make a decisions.

From this example we can see the main differences between two ways of communication, traditional and by social media. As a result, we can understand how trust and credibility become and work in both these approaches. Moreover, it is an illustrative example, which relates not only to healthcare information, but also explain the main differences between traditional and social media relates to the trust and credibility .

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