A new survey commissioned by Consumer Healthcare Products Australia has found that two-thirds of people go online for information on health conditions before consulting a healthcare professional.
The survey of 2,000 adults also found that 91 per cent do not fully understand the information they find.
The association has launched the survey in a new report - The Self Care Opportunity - that also found an overwhelming majority of respondents (97 per cent) feel responsible for managing their own health. A significant majority (84 per cent) also want to improve their health skills and knowledge to be more engaged in their health.
Yet 30 per cent consider their health literacy level is low and more than half (52 per cent) find it difficult to identify credible sources online. Over a quarter (28 per cent) would trust the information they find online more if it was independently verified as credible.
CHP Australia CEO Dr Deon Schoombie said, “Self-care is much more than mindfulness and empowers people to take charge of their health with proactive steps like strong hygiene practices, knowing how to use medication responsibly and fostering strong health knowledge and skills. Self-care not only helps prevent illness and improve health outcomes, it lifts the performance of our entire health system and saves on costs,” said Dr Schoombie.
“The Self Care Opportunity Report clearly shows an urgent need to help Australians with digital health literacy - to know where to find, how to interpret, and how to use health information from online sources. This is very important as we can clearly see those with higher literacy levels have higher engagement in their health."