Where do Britons learn about drugs and medical treatments?
July 28th, 2023, Clifton Mark

Where do Britons learn about drugs and medical treatments?

Traditionally, when people wanted to learn about a drug or medical treatment, they’d visit the surgery and ask their GP. In 2023, how is the monopoly of medical expertise holding up? What role are new sources of information such as social media playing in educating Britons about their medical options?

According to a recent YouGov survey, GPs are still an important source of information. Half of Brits (51%) say they consult their GP “very often” of “somewhat often” when they want to learn about drugs and medical treatments. In this context, medics are second only to Google, which 71% say they use often in this context. Physical media such as books and journals are frequently used by 30%.

Web search is the most popular source for all age cohorts, but there are significant differences in how older and younger consumers get their information. Gen-Zs (18-24-year-olds) are much more likely to turn to advertisements (22%), social media (37%) than older cohorts. They’re also most likely to consult physical media such as books and journals (40%). Gen-Z is also less likely than most Britons to turn to their GP for advice. Those over the age of 55 seem to be less curious about medical treatments as they are less likely consult any of the information sources mentioned than other age groups.

There are also gender differences in how Britons research medical treatments. A fifth (20%) of women say they often use social media compared to 16% of men. Women are also more likely to use web search (78% vs 63%) and books and journals (34% vs 27%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, parents are particularly interested in learning about medical treatments. Britons with children living in their household are significantly more likely to be frequent users of all information sources than those with no children in the household.

The difference is especially pronounced when it comes to social media (26% vs. 15%) and advertisements (20% vs 9%).

Nearly a fifth (18%) often consult social media to learn about medical treatments, but not all platforms are equally popular. Among Britons who use social media to research medical treatments, YouTube is the most popular, with 43% using it often. Facebook is the runner up with 34%, followed by Instagram (22%).

Again, there are generational differences when it comes to platform preference. Gen-Z is twice as likely to frequently refer to TikTok than the general population (30% vs 15%). On the other hand, this generation is less likely use YouTube or Facebook than their elders.

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on July 3-4, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2193 adults in the UK (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted to be nationally representative. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.