Trust and Mistrust

With Americans more active than ever in rummaging through the media for health and medical information, do their doctors get lost in the shuffle? Quite the contrary, according to a Gallup analysis of polls on the subject. While people are getting tons of information, they don’t put great trust in it. Moreover, 45 percent say health and medical news reports leave them “more confused about health issues than before.” One result of this “is an apparent increased reliance on doctors for health information.” Trust is the key. While 61 percent of adults say they have “a great deal” of trust in the information they get from their doctors, 20 percent say the same for the information they get via the Internet. Fewer still give such credence to the reports they get from TV (14 percent), magazines (13 percent) or newspapers (12 percent). Books command more respect, with 36 percent placing great trust in that genre. As the chart below shows, people are often prompted by media reports to ask questions of their doctors. Gallup suggests nurses in doctors’ offices are an “underutilized” source of advice and information. “They are above average in terms of the level of trust and credibility they are given by the public, but are below average in terms of the level of information that the public gets from them.”