Older Web Users in Canada Prefer Doctors, Distrust Internet for Health Info - eMarketer

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Older Web Users in Canada Prefer Doctors, Distrust Internet for Health Info

US internet users were more likely to trust digital sources

August 3, 2016

Internet users in Canada ages 45 and up most commonly trusted their family doctor when it comes to health information, a June 2016 survey from International Federation on Ageing (IFA) and Ipsos found. On the other end of the spectrum, just 44% trusted the internet and only 22% said the same of TV to inform them on health topics.

Sources that Internet Users in Canada Trust for Health Information, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Family doctors, medical specialists, local pharmacists and hospitals were the most commonly trusted sources for health information, according to the report. All four sources were trusted by over 90% of respondents.

But this research was conducted among a subpopulation of older adults. A March 2016 report from Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) highlights that internet users ages 18 and up are researching medical and health information on the internet at a much higher rate than in 2016—90% of respondents said they had done so in the past 12 months, compared with 64% in 2010.

But if IFA’s figures are to be believed, that must mean that the massive majority of those doing so are under 45—or that many older adults are searching for health information online that they don’t trust.

Digital Sources/Channels that US Internet Users Trust for Health Information, June 2015 (% of respondents)

A January 2016 report from Edelman revealed that south of the border, in the US, 83% of internet users ages 18 and older trusted general health information sites, while 76% trusted nonprofit sites for info about their health. Digital ads and social networks, however, were not so trusted.

While Edelman’s report covers a larger age range than IFA’s, not only are US internet users using the internet more to research their health, but they, in fact, trust it to obtain health information—which suggests that those in Canada might indeed hold a larger skepticism of online health sites than their US counterparts.

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