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Consumer trust in government health advisors has dropped 30% since start of pandemic

New research reveals shifting consumer attitudes to sources of health information over the two-year pandemic period.

New research by comms agency Kaizo reveals that consumers’ trust in different sources of health information has been radically redistributed over the two-year pandemic period.

Consumers are less likely to trust government health advisors and independent experts now, compared to two years ago, but are more likely to trust GPs, pharmacists, and third sector organisations.

Comparing research among 500 UK consumers, commissioned by Kaizo and conducted in November 2022, with research from 2020, several clear trends for health communicators emerged.

Just 35% of respondents said official UK government health advisors were among their most trusted source of information: 30% lower than at the height of the pandemic. Third sector bodies such as healthcare charities had improved their trust rating, up at 20% compared to 9% two years ago.

Healthcare professionals continue to be the most trusted sources of information, but have grown their share by 10%: now almost half (47%) of respondents said they would rely on their GP, doctor, or nurse to provide them with trustworthy information. In 2020, only 5% of respondents said they would rely on a local pharmacist for health advice; this is now 20%.

Trust in independent scientists and experts has dropped since 2020 – falling from 49% to just 29%.

The survey also revealed that despite the ‘twindemic’, consumers are currently more worried about their mental health than Covid-19, colds or the flu. Over a third (39%) said their own mental health was their biggest health concern, demonstrating that the pandemic’s toll has been more than physical.

As trust has shifted during the pandemic, it has also changed in intensity. It is now harder to lose consumers’ trust: two years ago, 44% of respondents said that they would lose trust in health information that went against official advice. This has now fallen to 23%. The data suggests a degree of ‘health messaging fatigue’, with consumers less engaged with the health information they consume and therefore less likely to question its accuracy.

Rhodri Harries, Kaizo MD, said: “Consumers have been bombarded with health information for two years now, and this, coupled with the ongoing decline in print and online news readership, means health communicators need to reevaluate their approach. Clear, trustworthy health information saves lives and reduces the burden on the NHS – but only if people pay attention to it.”

Harries continued: “Our research highlights several key trends that health communicators need to take on board to ensure that consumers and patients engage with what they have to say. The pandemic continues to redefine ‘normal’ practice two years on, so tracking these trends means brands gain a competitive advantage.”

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

For further information on healthcare and pharma comms support, please get in touch with Helen Fitzhugh, on helen.fitzhugh@kaizo.co.uk.

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