Odds of talking to healthcare providers as the initial source of healthcare information: updated cross-sectional results from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS).

Swoboda CM, Van Hulle JM, McAlearney AS, Huerta TR
BMC Fam Pract 19 146 08/29/2018

Abstract

BACKGROUND: People use a variety of means to find health information, including searching the Internet, seeking print sources, and talking to healthcare providers, family members, and friends. Doctors are considered the most trusted source of health information, but people may be underutilizing them in favor of searching the Internet.

METHODS: A multinomial logistic regression of cross-sectional data from Cycle 4 of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) was conducted. Independent variables included gender, age, rurality, cancer history, general health, income, race, education level, insurance status, veteran status, Internet use, and data year; the dependent variable was the first chosen source of health information.

RESULTS: The most frequent initial source of health information was the Internet, and the second most frequent was healthcare providers. There were significant differences in odds of using healthcare providers as the first source of health information. Those likely to use doctors as their initial source of health information were older adults, black adults, adults with health insurance, those who do not use the Internet, and adults who do not have a college degree.

CONCLUSIONS: People who use healthcare providers as the first source of health information may have better access to health care and be those less likely to use the Internet. Doctors may have to provide more information to those who do not use the internet and spend time verifying information for those who do use health information from the internet.

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