Younger generations tend to consult social networks and Google for easier access to health information.
TikTok, YouTube and other social media platforms are not only being used for entertainment. Web users, particularly young ones, have become accustomed to heading to such networks in search of health advice. A third of Gen Z users go to TikTok first before consulting a doctor. Some 44% have the same habit on YouTube, according to a US study.
Based on a sample of 2,000 US adults, CharityRx, a discount service at select pharmacies, conducted a study* to understand how Americans learn about health topics and which sources they turn to first.
According to the results, 65% of Americans surveyed turned to Google first before consulting their doctor while 33% go to YouTube first and one in five Americans prioritize TikTok. Meanwhile 44% of Generation Z respondents turn to YouTube and 33% to TikTok. Compared to the older generation, they are less inclined to consult Google first with just 27% doing so. Older generations are more likely to head to Google, with 32% of Millennials, 36% of Generation X and 36% of Baby Boomers doing so. Meanwhile 39% of Millennials, 30% of Gen Xers and 21% of Baby Boomers go to YouTube compared with 26% of Millennials, 14% of Gen X and 4% of Baby Boomers checking out TikTok in such circumstances.
So why are young people more comfortable consulting influencers rather than healthcare professionals? If the majority, 55%, cite medical accreditation or certification as the reason they trust creators on social networks, 40% say the influencers' years of experience are a factor, 26% mention relatability to a shared experience and 22% believe that the fact they healed from a certain condition make them credible.
However there are differences depending on the condition in question. Fifty-five percent of Generation Z users search for information on anxiety versus 16% of Boomers. Depression is the medical issue most searched by young people (49%), followed by the morning-after pill (20%), weight loss (44%), and Covid-19 (17%).
Also read: From Facebook to YouTube, which social network ranked highest among Gen Z and Millennials in 2022?
However, Americans say they trust influencers and celebrities far less than doctors with just 17% saying the contrary. And while half of those surveyed admit they are more likely to buy a drug or supplement if a celebrity recommends it, the vast majority (89%) recognize that influencers contribute to misinformation in the health field and 36% don't trust their advice. *CharityRx commissioned this survey in collaboration with market research provider Pollfish, including 2,000 US adults aged 18 and older who have been exposed to drug and/or supplement advertising in the past 12 months. Generational age ranges were drawn from Pew Research.