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Americans Trust Social Media And AI For Health Advice Over Doctors

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Photo of a female patient taking a drug. Research shows that half of adults have shared their symptoms with ChatGPT to review for a diagnosis. JESHOOTS.COM VIA PEXELS.

NEW YORK — More Americans are trusting social media and health care websites to give them health advice over a medical professional, finds a new survey.

The poll of 2,000 US adults revealed many turn to the web for accurate information on health before their physician, with people consulting healthcare websites (53%) and social media (46%) more than their personal doctor (44%).

Nearly three-quarters (73%) believe they have a better understanding of their personal health than their doctor does.

Commissioned by UserTesting and conducted by OnePoll, the survey also found an international difference in how trusting people are of AI.

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The same survey polling 1,000 British adults and 1,000 Australian adults found, comparatively, 44% of Brits and 27% of Australians wouldn’t trust AI to handle any health-related tasks. Meanwhile, only 6% of Americans shared the same anti-AI sentiments.

A section of the findings from ChatGPT. Research indicates that half of adults have shared their symptoms with ChatGPT while confirming for a diagnosis. CHATGPT

Further showcasing their point, 67% of Americans said they’ve looked up their symptoms on an internet search engine like Google or WebMD.

Over half of respondents (52%) stated they have given a list of their symptoms to a large language model (LLM) like ChatGPT, looking for a diagnosis.

Of them, 81% have been given a diagnosis from the LLM, and when asked for the accuracy of their diagnosis after consulting a doctor, 84% said the diagnosis was accurate.

Respondents said they would rather consult the internet or ChatGPT instead of their doctor because they don’t understand their healthcare insurance or what it covers (57%), they’re embarrassed by what they’re experiencing (51%) or because they want a second opinion (45%).

“The PX — or patient experience — is not just about the relationship between patients and providers,” said Lija Hogan, principal of enterprise research strategy at UserTesting. “Healthcare journeys include digital touchpoints that extend beyond scheduling appointments or remote visits,” he added.

“Americans are using AI as a means to help them navigate a complex experience with more information that is understandable and relevant to them – and that they feel is trustworthy,” he continued.

The survey also found people would trust AI to recommend treatment plans to them (53%), scheduling doctors’ appointments (52%) and coordinating with pharmacies to fill prescriptions (47%).

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Respondents would also trust AI with their sleeping patterns (53%), heart rate information (51%), blood pressure (42%) and fertility information (40%).

Nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) would trust AI to diagnose them with medical conditions such as certain chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes (48%), COVID-19 (42%) and colds and flus (40%).

94% of people own a personal smart device that can track health and 86% of them use smart devices to opt in for health tracking. Six in 10 (62%) said health tracking has influenced their behaviors.

Of course, much of the trust people have for technology doesn’t stop with AI. Many would also trust major tech companies with their personal health data, including Google (54%), Apple (47%), Fitbit (34%), Amazon (31%) and Meta (25%).

Overall, 78% stated they’re “confident” that AI and tech companies would protect their health information.

“Doctors and patients need to figure out together how AI can play the best role in healthcare journey,” continued Hogan. “This means that we have to figure out the right guardrails to ensure people are getting high-quality advice in the right contexts and how to connect patients to providers.

“The growing prevalence of healthcare deserts or even just ordinary lack of access in America means that AI will be incorporated into the healthcare journey to provide care at the scale that we need as the country ages,” he noted.

A section of the findings from ChatGPT. Research indicates that half of adults have shared their symptoms with ChatGPT while confirming for a diagnosis. CHATGPT

TOP 10 HEALTH TASKS AMERICANS WOULD TRUST TO AI

  • Recommending treatment plans – 53%
  • Scheduling doctor appointments – 52%
  • Coordinating with pharmacies (refilling prescriptions) – 47%
  • Recommending medications – 45%
  • Choosing my health insurance plan – 42%
  • Diagnosing me with a medical condition – 23%
  • Finding me a new doctor – 19%
  • Creating/recommending a fitness/exercise plan – 18%
  • Mental health treatments (therapy, meditation, etc.) – 17%
  • Choosing my diet – 17%

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by UserTesting between October 13 and October 17, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

Produced in association with SWNS Research

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