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Number of consumers relying on social media for ‘trustworthy’ health information increases by 70% in two years

Consumers are more worried about their health in 2024 but are ‘tuning out’ from unrelatable experts and relying less on traditional sources for their decision making, according to new research from PR and comms agency Kaizo.

The survey, which involved 500 UK consumers and was commissioned by Kaizo in January 2024, compared results against data from 2022 and 2020, to reveal huge shifts in attitudes to health information.

The research revealed a 70% increase in the number of consumers relying on social media to provide them with trustworthy health information in the last two years. This was consistent across all age groups, with those aged 55 and over the most likely (46%) to rely on social media when it came to making decisions about their own health.

While healthcare professionals (HCPs) remain the most trusted source for health information, only 45% of respondents said they would lose trust in health information if it didn’t come from a qualified HCP – a drop from 70% in 2020.

People also appear to be trusting their own beliefs and lived experiences more, with 29% of survey respondents reporting they will not trust information if it conflicts with what they believe, up from 17% last year. 35% of respondents indicated that they would lose trust in a source that does not come from someone with personal experience.

A 29% decrease in consumers turning to mainstream media for trusted health information over the last two years further highlights a growing scepticism towards traditional sources.

These shifts in consumer behaviour suggest a continuation of trends observed in our last survey, with consumers ‘tuning out’ from health information that is not relatable, even when this comes from the sources they trust most.

Anita Nahal, Director – Healthcare & Pharma at Kaizo, said “Healthcare communicators can no longer rely on experts and HCPs to have the same impact when it comes to building trust with audiences. Relatability is key, and our research highlights the need to reassess whether tried and tested sources still fit the bill in today’s environment.”

“Audiences are re-writing the rules when it comes to how and where they engage with health information, so healthcare communicators need to keep pace and adapt. Don’t be afraid to shake things up for 2024.”

New for 2024, the research also explored consumer motivation for making positive health changes. 44% of respondents expressed that if a family member or friend was making a similar health change, it would motivate them to do the same. This reflects a growing trend of individuals seeking support and inspiration from their immediate social circles.

To download the report and read Kaizo’s recommendations for health comms professionals, please click here.

For further information on healthcare and pharma comms support, please contact Anita Nahal via anita.nahal@kaizo.co.uk.

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