13 Aug 2022

New Zealanders still googling health advice, but less than pre-Covid

7:53 pm on 13 August 2022

A report has found almost 40 percent of New Zealanders seek health advice online, before seeing a professional.

hands on laptop

File photo. Photo: Thomas Lefebvre / Unsplash

The Healthy Futures Report, commissioned by the non-profit insurer Southern Cross, interviewed 5000 people about their physical and mental health conditions.

It found since the start of the pandemic, the uncertainties of Covid-19 had left many people confused about where to go for accurate health advice and information.

However, while 39 percent of New Zealanders looked for health advice online when unwell, this had dropped four points from pre-pandemic levels.

There had also been a significant drop in the number of people seeking general health advice from friends/whānau and the internet (50 percent, down 13 points), including online articles and social media.

The report said this was possibly due to an increase of anti-science rhetoric during the Covid-19 pandemic.

People were now more likely to seek out advice from health professionals when physically unwell.

There was also an increase in people (22 percent, up 11 points) seeking health advice from pharmacists when unwell.

Southern Cross's chief medical officer Stephen Child said although online research could bring more medical understanding, it was always best to seek professional help, especially before starting any treatments.

"The problem with the internet is people's opinions and less rigourous research can become accepted and available to individuals who are searching," he said.

Child said it was important for people to check the sources of online information regarding health.

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