Trusting Social Media as a Source of Health Information : Online Surveys Comparing the United States, Korea, and Hong Kong

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review

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Author(s)

  • Hayeon Song
  • Kikuko Omori
  • Jihyun Kim
  • Kelly E Tenzek
  • Jennifer Morey Hawkins
  • Yong-Chan Kim
  • Joo-Young Jung

Related Research Unit(s)

Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25
Pages (from-to)1-12
Journal / PublicationJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume18
Issue number3
Online published14 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

Link(s)

Abstract

Background: The Internet has increasingly become a popular source of health information by connecting individuals with health content, experts, and support. More and more, individuals turn to social media and Internet sites to share health information and experiences. Although online health information seeking occurs worldwide, limited empirical studies exist examining cross-cultural differences in perceptions about user-generated, experience-based information compared to expertise-based information sources. Objective: To investigate if cultural variations exist in patterns of online health information seeking, specifically in perceptions of online health information sources. It was hypothesized that Koreans and Hongkongers, compared to Americans, would be more likely to trust and use experience-based knowledge shared in social Internet sites, such as social media and online support groups. Conversely, Americans, compared to Koreans and Hongkongers, would value expertise-based knowledge prepared and approved by doctors or professional health providers more. Methods: Survey questionnaires were developed in English first and then translated into Korean and Chinese. The back-translation method ensured the standardization of questions. Surveys were administered using a standardized recruitment strategy and data collection methods. Results: A total of 826 participants living in metropolitan areas from the United States (n=301), Korea (n=179), and Hong Kong (n=337) participated in the study. We found significant cultural differences in information processing preferences for online health information. A planned contrast test revealed that Koreans and Hongkongers showed more trust in experience-based health information sources (blogs: t451.50=11.21, P<.001; onlinesupport group: t455.71=9.30, P<.001; social networking sites [SNS]: t466.75=11.36,P<.001) and also reported using blogs (t515.31=6.67, P<.001) and SNS(t529.22=4.51, P<.001) more frequently than Americans. Americans showed astronger preference for using expertise-based information sources (eg, WebMDand CDC) compared to Koreans and Hongkongers (t360.02=3.01, P=.003). Trust inexpertise-based information sources was universal, demonstrating no culturaldifferences (Brown-Forsythe F2,654=1.82, P=.16). Culture also contributedsignificantly to differences in searching information on behalf of familymembers (t480.38=5.99, P<.001) as well as to the goals of informationsearching.Conclusions: This research found significant cultural differences in information processing preferences for online health information. Further discussion is included regarding effective communication strategies in providing quality health information.

Research Area(s)

  • social media, medical informatics, trust, culture, consumer behavior, consumer health information, information sharing

Bibliographic Note

Full text of this publication does not contain sufficient affiliation information. With consent from the author(s) concerned, the Research Unit(s) information for this record is based on the existing academic department affiliation of the author(s).

Citation Format(s)

Trusting Social Media as a Source of Health Information : Online Surveys Comparing the United States, Korea, and Hong Kong. / Song, Hayeon; Omori, Kikuko; Kim, Jihyun; Tenzek, Kelly E; Hawkins, Jennifer Morey; Lin, Wan-Ying; Kim, Yong-Chan; Jung, Joo-Young.

In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 18, No. 3, e25, 03.2016, p. 1-12.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalNot applicablepeer-review

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