So much for the days of sitting down with a seasoned physician for sound health advice.
Increasingly, younger generations are deferring to influencers and other content they find on social networks for such information.
A clear majority of Generation Z and millennials (76% and 57%, respectively) say they now hold health influencers in high esteem, according to fresh findings from Healthline.com.
Across generations, 44% of people with a health condition say they value the opinion or advice of a health influencer for relevant information or support, the health information provider found.
More broadly, millennials (62%) and Gen Z-ers (52%) say they depend mostly on social media for their health information.
Somewhat surprisingly, Facebook and Instagram do not do the best job of connecting all consumers with health information.
Among millennials, for example, YouTube and Twitter are the most popular platforms for finding health condition information.
Among Gen Z, however, Facebook and Instagram are tied as the top resources for such information.
For its part, Gen X is more wary of finding health information on social media. This generation is also the most interested in condition-specific content, nutrition, and alternative approaches to personal health.
Millennials, meanwhile, are most interested in fitness and mental health content.
For their part, networks are trying to cut down on the spread of misleading and potentially harmful health content. For example, for posts with links mentioning COVID-19, Facebook is currently exploring the use of notification screens that would provide information about the source of the link, while directing users to more authoritative information resources.
Among other efforts to cut down on misinformation, Twitter recently began prompting users to read articles before sharing them with followers.
However, critics don’t believe that social networks do enough to police their platforms. In a recent report, NYU’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights took issue with networks’ reliance on third-party vendors for content review, which they said amounted to an outsourcing of responsibility for the safety of billions of users.
Among potential sources of health information, the government is increasingly on the outs with consumers, according to a separate study from market research platform Suzy.
Among a sample of U.S. consumers working from home, 51% said they felt frustrated about government guidance on matters of health, including the COVID-19 pandemic, while 48% said they were confused, and 28% reported feeling “angry.”
For its findings, Healthline relied on an online survey of 1,000 respondents living with a health condition, along with194 Healthline influencer partners.