Going online for health advice: Changes in usage and trust practices over the last five years

Elizabeth Sillence*, Pamela Briggs, Peter Harris, Lesley Fishwick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years the number of health related websites has increased dramatically and so have concerns regarding the quality of online information. The sheer volume of sites and the variety of information available have left health consumers potentially with greater choice but it is not clear whether these online changes are reflected in user behaviour. This study addresses whether users are becoming more proficient in searching for credible, high quality information and whether they are more demanding of the type of information being sought and less ready to trust online health advice. This paper describes changes in the use of the Internet for health advice over a five-year period. It compares findings from two large-scale online questionnaire studies undertaken in 2000 and 2005. Key changes and similarities in usage and trust practices are noted. The rise in unregulated sites is discussed in terms of patients “acting as scientists” using websites to test out theories regarding their health. The increasing importance of design issues is also highlighted and implications for website designers and content providers are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-406
JournalInteracting with Computers
Issue number3
Early online date28 Nov 2006
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2007


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