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Impact of web searching and social feedback on consumer decision making: a prospective online experiment.

Lau AY, Coiera EW - J. Med. Internet Res. (2008)

Bottom Line: The proportion of subjects with highly confident correct answers (ie, confident or very confident) and the proportion with highly confident incorrect answers significantly increased after searching (correct pre-search 61.6% vs correct post-search 95.5%, P <.001; incorrect pre-search 55.3% vs incorrect post-search 82.0%, P <.001).However, a consumer's confidence in an answer is not a good indicator of the answer being correct.Consumers who are not confident in their answers after searching are more likely to be influenced to change their views when provided with feedback from other consumers.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Health Informatics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

ABSTRACT

Background: The World Wide Web has increasingly become an important source of information in health care consumer decision making. However, little is known about whether searching online resources actually improves consumers' understanding of health issues.

Objectives: The aim was to study whether searching on the World Wide Web improves consumers' accuracy in answering health questions and whether consumers' understanding of health issues is subject to further change under social feedback.

Methods: This was a pre/post prospective online study. A convenience sample of 227 undergraduate students was recruited from the population of the University of New South Wales. Subjects used a search engine that retrieved online documents from PubMed, MedlinePlus, and HealthInsite and answered a set of six questions (before and after use of the search engine) designed for health care consumers. They were then presented with feedback consisting of a summary of the post-search answers provided by previous subjects for the same questions and were asked to answer the questions again.

Results: There was an improvement in the percentage of correct answers after searching (pre-search 61.2% vs post-search 82.0%, P <.001) and after feedback with other subjects' answers (pre-feedback 82.0% vs post-feedback 85.3%, P =.051). The proportion of subjects with highly confident correct answers (ie, confident or very confident) and the proportion with highly confident incorrect answers significantly increased after searching (correct pre-search 61.6% vs correct post-search 95.5%, P <.001; incorrect pre-search 55.3% vs incorrect post-search 82.0%, P <.001). Subjects who were not as confident in their post-search answers were 28.5% more likely than those who were confident or very confident to change their answer after feedback with other subjects' post-search answers (chi(2) (1)= 66.65, P <.001).

Conclusions: Searching across quality health information sources on the Web can improve consumers' accuracy in answering health questions. However, a consumer's confidence in an answer is not a good indicator of the answer being correct. Consumers who are not confident in their answers after searching are more likely to be influenced to change their views when provided with feedback from other consumers.

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Data exclusion procedure
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Related In: Results  -  Collection


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figure2: Data exclusion procedure

Mentions: After data exclusion (Figure 2), the study consisted of 211 subjects who made 928 responses, 1606 searches, and 3019 document accesses. Table 2 presents demographic attributes and self-rated search skills and frequency of searching the Web for general topics and health-related issues. Overall, subjects on average took 361 seconds (SD 281.2) to search, made 1.73 (SD 1.391) searches, and accessed 3.25 (SD 3.067) documents to answer a question.


Impact of web searching and social feedback on consumer decision making: a prospective online experiment.

Lau AY, Coiera EW - J. Med. Internet Res. (2008)

Data exclusion procedure
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2483845&req=5

figure2: Data exclusion procedure
Mentions: After data exclusion (Figure 2), the study consisted of 211 subjects who made 928 responses, 1606 searches, and 3019 document accesses. Table 2 presents demographic attributes and self-rated search skills and frequency of searching the Web for general topics and health-related issues. Overall, subjects on average took 361 seconds (SD 281.2) to search, made 1.73 (SD 1.391) searches, and accessed 3.25 (SD 3.067) documents to answer a question.

Bottom Line: The proportion of subjects with highly confident correct answers (ie, confident or very confident) and the proportion with highly confident incorrect answers significantly increased after searching (correct pre-search 61.6% vs correct post-search 95.5%, P <.001; incorrect pre-search 55.3% vs incorrect post-search 82.0%, P <.001).However, a consumer's confidence in an answer is not a good indicator of the answer being correct.Consumers who are not confident in their answers after searching are more likely to be influenced to change their views when provided with feedback from other consumers.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Centre for Health Informatics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

ABSTRACT

Background: The World Wide Web has increasingly become an important source of information in health care consumer decision making. However, little is known about whether searching online resources actually improves consumers' understanding of health issues.

Objectives: The aim was to study whether searching on the World Wide Web improves consumers' accuracy in answering health questions and whether consumers' understanding of health issues is subject to further change under social feedback.

Methods: This was a pre/post prospective online study. A convenience sample of 227 undergraduate students was recruited from the population of the University of New South Wales. Subjects used a search engine that retrieved online documents from PubMed, MedlinePlus, and HealthInsite and answered a set of six questions (before and after use of the search engine) designed for health care consumers. They were then presented with feedback consisting of a summary of the post-search answers provided by previous subjects for the same questions and were asked to answer the questions again.

Results: There was an improvement in the percentage of correct answers after searching (pre-search 61.2% vs post-search 82.0%, P <.001) and after feedback with other subjects' answers (pre-feedback 82.0% vs post-feedback 85.3%, P =.051). The proportion of subjects with highly confident correct answers (ie, confident or very confident) and the proportion with highly confident incorrect answers significantly increased after searching (correct pre-search 61.6% vs correct post-search 95.5%, P <.001; incorrect pre-search 55.3% vs incorrect post-search 82.0%, P <.001). Subjects who were not as confident in their post-search answers were 28.5% more likely than those who were confident or very confident to change their answer after feedback with other subjects' post-search answers (chi(2) (1)= 66.65, P <.001).

Conclusions: Searching across quality health information sources on the Web can improve consumers' accuracy in answering health questions. However, a consumer's confidence in an answer is not a good indicator of the answer being correct. Consumers who are not confident in their answers after searching are more likely to be influenced to change their views when provided with feedback from other consumers.

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