Doctors vs. Laypersons on Blogs vs. Bulletin Boards vs. Websites vs.
Homepages: The Effects of Online Health Sources on Credibility and Behavioral
Yifeng Hu (Graduate Student)
Dr. S. Shyam Sundar
For a complete report of this research, see:
Hu, Y., & Sundar, S. S. (2008, May). Doctors vs. Laypersons on Blogs
vs. Bulletin Boards vs. Websites vs. Homepages: The Effects of Online
Health Sources on Credibility and Behavioral Intentions. Paper presented
at the 58th annual convention of the International Communication Association,
Based on a typology of online communication sources, this research examines
the influences of original sources (doctors vs. laypersons) and selecting
sources (websites vs. bulletin boards vs. blogs vs. homepages) on perceived
credibility of—and behavioral intentions toward—health information.
A large 2 × 2 × 5 full factorial online experiment revealed
that respondents (N = 555) were more likely to take action based on the
information sourced from a website than from a blog or a homepage. The
effect was mediated by perceived level of gatekeeping and perceived information
completeness. A two-way interaction between original and selecting sources
was mediated by perceived appropriateness of source placement such that
information on a website was perceived as more credible if attributed
to a doctor than to a layperson while information on a homepage was perceived
as slightly more credible if attributed to a layperson. This interaction
differed as a function of message. Practical implications for online health
planners, physicians, users and policy makers are discussed.