Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.28 7 Mar 2019


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A new study has found that 53% of Irish people sourced medical advice online in the last 12 months.

However, only 15% consider healthcare websites to be very trustworthy.

While 73% would welcome the introduction of a registered 'Trust Mark' for health information online.

The research from Ipsos/MRBI and commissioned by MSD Ireland revealed a significant lack of trust in health information being consumed online.

Only 15% of those surveyed considering health websites to be very trustworthy, with the figure for social media just 4%.

Some 46% of people who went online before diagnosis felt worse having researched their symptoms, with 40% feeling better and 15% felt the same

Of those who went online after seeing a doctor, 56% felt better, 26% felt worse and 19% felt the same.

While 65% of those aged 18 to 34 have accessed online health information in the last 12 months, compared to 37% of over-55's.

And younger people are more regular users of online information - logging on an average of 7.4 times in the last year, compared to 2.6 times for those over-55.

Source: Ipsos/MRBI/MSD Ireland

GP's remain the most trusted source for health information, with 84% of those surveyed regarding their doctor as very trustworthy, followed by consultants (78%) and pharmacists (68%).

And 77% said they would visit a website if recommended by their healthcare professional.

The research also revealed significant public support - 73% - for the introduction of a registered trust mark, confirming that health information online has been verified by a recognised medical authority.

Dr Maitiu O Tuathail, president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), said: "There is no doubt that access to health information and resources online has had a positive impact on how people actively manage their health.

"The research released today however reveals a significant lack of trust in the health information people are consuming online and emphasises the importance of seeking professional medical help and guidance on all health matters.

"Oftentimes, search parameters can be vague and poorly defined, with the findings leading to uncertainty and sometimes adding unnecessary worry to a prospective patient.

"The appetite for a registered trust mark for health information online shows a desire from the general public for more guidance on what information to trust and what to disregard."


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Health Information Online Ipsos/MRBI MSD Ireland Medical Advice Medical Advice Online NAGP Online Trust Mark

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