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J Health Commun. 2011 Jan;16(1):34-49. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2010.529491.

Correlates of consumer trust in online health information: findings from the health information national trends survey.

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Department of Communication Studies, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island, USA.


The past few decades have witnessed a dramatic increase in consumers seeking health information online. However, the quality of such information remains questionable, and the trustworthiness of online health information has become a hot topic, whereas little attention has been paid to how consumers evaluate online health information credibility. This study builds on theoretical perspectives of trust such as personal-capital-based, social-capital-based, and transfer-based, and it examines various correlates of consumer trust in online health information. The author analyzed the 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey data (N = 7,674). Results showed that consumer trust in online health information did not correlate with personal capital such as income, education, and health status. Social capital indicated by visiting social networking Web sites was not associated with trust in online health information either. Nevertheless, trust in online health information transferred from traditional mass media and government health agencies to the Internet, and it varied by such information features as easiness to locate and to understand. Age appeared to be a key factor in understanding the correlates of trust in online health information. Theoretical and empirical implications of the results are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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