Having faith in the online voice. Exploring contemporary issues of trust, language and advice in the context of e-health

Elizabeth Sillence


The increasing volume of Internet based health resources means that decisions about how to trust information and advice encountered online become ever more complicated. As peer-to-peer experiences become a source of health information, lay people are required to evaluate the trustworthiness of such online personal accounts. In this paper, we present two contemporary studies of the negotiation of trust in e-health. The first study explores how people come to select a trustworthy voice from a community of online peers whilst the second explores how video bloggers use the medium to present a credible account of their health experiences. Drawing on data from interviews with community members, video transcripts and viewers’ comments, we examine issues of trust, language and advice from the perspective of those presenting the authentic voice as well as those seeking to evaluate the voice. The paper highlights the importance of similarity matching, motivation and interactivity to the portrayal and recognition of trustworthy accounts online.



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13092/lo.87.4175