Effects of online health sources on credibility and behavioral intentions

Yifeng Hu, S. Shyam Sundar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

307 Scopus citations


Online health information comes from a variety of online sources. Based on a typology of online sources, this research examines the direct and combined influences of original sources (doctors vs. laypersons) and selecting sources (Web sites vs. bulletin boards vs. blogs vs. personal home pages vs. Internet) on perceived credibility of-and behavioral intentions toward-health information. A large 2 (message) × 2 (original source) × 5 (selecting source) full-factorial online experiment revealed that respondents (N = 555) were more likely to take action based on the information sourced from a Web site than from a blog or a personal home page. The effect was mediated by perceived level of gatekeeping and perceived information completeness. The analysis also yielded a three-way interaction between message, original source, and selecting source on perceived credibility, suggesting the operation of an appropriateness heuristic when evaluating source combinations for less relevant health topics. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed, leading to the proposal of a new online source typology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-132
Number of pages28
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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