Posted at 12:01 am February 6, 2020, in Health Matters Poll, Healthcare, New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

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New Brunswick, N.J. (February 6, 2020) – Though they’re able to seek healthcare information from more places than ever before, New Jersey residents still turn to — and trust —doctors and nurses more than any other source. Nine in ten report being likely to ask a doctor for information; eight in ten say they ask a nurse. Around nine in ten trust each of these sources to provide accurate health information.

“We can obtain health information today from so many sources — from medical websites to family members to our own providers,” said Linda Schwimmer, President and CEO of the Quality Institute. “We wanted to know exactly who people trust when it comes to obtaining health information. As we work to improve public health with health providers and plans, mayors and health officers, as well as state officials, these results provide invaluable insight into who are the most trusted messengers and where the public goes to find out this information.”

“The pattern of who or what New Jerseyans trust to provide accurate health and healthcare-related information mirrors the pattern of who or where they seek information about health and health care-related topics,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. “The more they trust a particular source, the more they are likely to seek information from it.”

These results come from the latest poll in the New Jersey Health Matters series by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. The full report on seeking health information and trusting sources can be found here or at

Results are from a statewide poll of 802 New Jersey adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones between May 29 and June 4, 2019; an oversample of 55 non-white New Jersey adults was conducted between September 5 and September 30, 2019, for a total sample of 857 New Jersey adults. The combined sample has a margin of error of +/-3.8 percentage points.

About seven in ten New Jerseyans also seek out health information from family and friends and websites; similar numbers also trust these sources. New Jerseyans rate traditional and social media much lower: a third seek and trust information from television, newspaper, or radio, while about one in five use social media for health-related information and one in ten trust it.

“While residents across the board largely seek out and trust healthcare providers most, racial, educational, and economic differences exist in the degree to which some groups use and trust certain sources,” said William Young, research associate at the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.

Black residents, for instance, are most trusting of their family and friends — with 79 percent saying they trust family and friends “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” to provide accurate information. White residents (73 percent) are slightly less likely to trust information from their families and friends, and Hispanic residents (62 percent) are much less likely to do so.

A significant gap also exists between racial and ethnic groups when it comes to seeking out information from traditional media. Black residents (51 percent) are more likely than Hispanics (40 percent) and twice as likely as whites (25 percent) to seek out information from newspapers, television, magazines, or the radio. A similar pattern emerges, though a narrower gap, when it comes to trusting these sources.

Although few members of any racial or ethnic group seek information from social media platforms, black residents and Hispanic residents indicate that they are slightly more likely than white residents to look on social media for information about health or health care; even fewer residents trust the information they might find there.

Those with a high school diploma or less are slightly less likely to obtain information and trust doctors and nurses than those with higher levels of education. They are somewhat more likely to use and trust traditional and social media. Having a college degree or higher is associated with a greater likelihood of checking websites for information.

The likelihood of turning to family members and friends, traditional media sources, and social media declines as income rises. While 82 percent of residents with household incomes of under $50,000 would turn to their family and friends, only 66 percent of those in households making at least $150,000 say the same.

“Understanding where people go for health care information – and how this may differ among particular groups – is a critical element for any public health campaign,” Schwimmer said. “We hope to bolster our mission to improve health care quality, safety and affordability for everyone through these results.”

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