Perceived credibility of government health information
Voegeli, Christopher D.
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For decades, the government has been a leading provider in health information for family physicians and the medical community. Only recently, however, have most people gained the ability to read government findings and recommendations. This information is disseminated online via government websites and through resources like fact sheets distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2014) or studies published on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) website. While attempting to determine the magnitude of this influence empirically, the present study will examine the relationship between perceived credibility of government health information and individuals’ political beliefs and interpersonal trust. Participants in this study included a random selection of 4,000 individuals attending classes at an urban university. They took online surveys, including a Pew Political Typology Survey (Pew Research Center, 2011), a Perception of Threat and Willingness to Comply Measure (Barr et al., 2008), and a demographics survey. The researcher performed an exploratory multiple regression analysis to evaluate how well three variables predicted the degree to which a participant would follow government health recommendations during a major disease outbreak. The linear combination of the best predictor variables—concern, t (154) = 2.80, Cohen’s d = 0.45, p < 0.01; credibility of government health information, t (154) = 6.10, Cohen’s d = 0.98, p < 0.01; and agreement to follow government guidelines about sexually transmitted diseases, t (154) = 9.614, Cohen’s d = 1.55, p < 0.001—were significantly related to agreement that a participant would follow government health recommendations during a major disease outbreak, F (3,154) = 101.35, p < 0.001. The adjusted R squared was 0.66. Whether or not an individual follows government health recommendations can be predicted from other variables, and doing so will allow health professionals to address this when disseminating health information and developing curricula.
Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology