Superdrug Online Doctor surveyed over 2,000 Brits to understand their attitudes towards social media content providing health information and the consequences of following information that hasn’t been fact-checked.
- 24% use social media for mental health content.
However, 65% of people felt that health misinformation had a negative impact on their mental health.
Three in five people (59%) have seen untrue or misleading health information on TikTok.
Half of the UK has taken health advice seen online, with one in 10 inaccurate taking advice.
A new study has revealed that Brits act on health advice seen online an average of four times a year by sharing with friends, researching symptoms or purchasing products. A quarter of those surveyed said that the content they engage with the most online is around mental health, followed by exercise, nutrition, skin health and sexual health.
The research, commissioned by Superdrug Online Doctor, tackles the rise of health misinformation posted on social media. With many self-claimed medical experts on the platform sharing advice and diagnoses, snippets of false information are being openly consumed by unknowing users. The new study explores the negative impact of consuming health misinformation online with help from qualified doctors discussing how we can spot misinformation before we act on it.
The data also revealed how the internet and social media were the first port of call for medical information to one in five in the UK, ahead of friends, family and official NHS resources.
This could lead to spending money on health products that may not be recommended by professionals, with 53% saying they’ve spent up to £200 on health and wellbeing products over the past year from things they’ve seen on social media, despite 24% saying the content they view online about their health is generally inaccurate.
A massive 66% say they view health advice on social media, and this seems to be where most are getting their education from, particularly around sex, with a previous study by Superdrug Online Doctor revealing that 72% of Brits believe their sex education at school was ‘very basic’ or ‘poor’.
Curious teens are now finding answers on TikTok, with 55% of 16-24-year-olds stating they have learnt more from TikTok regarding sex than at school. This decreases slightly to 46.5% of 25-34-year-olds feeling the same.
Misleading health content has an unspoken impact on mental health, including misdiagnosis and increased needless anxiety.
The research revealed 65% of consumers feel health misinformation can have a negative impact on mental health, while 63% believe it can impact their general confidence.
Consuming health misinformation online was also found to impact half of Brits’ personal relationships, and one in two said it could even impact their social life.