Beyond the News Content: Exploring The Relationship Between Online Sources Of Information And Perception Of CAM Therapies Among Digital Natives In Spain

Author: Emilia Hermelinda Lopera Pareja, CIEMAT, Spain

Co-author: Carolina Moreno Castro

The media panorama in the Spanish society has changed dramatically over the last decade. The current situation is characterized by an overlapping of news “containers” where traditional printed and audio-visual news outlets coexist with an ever increasing use of exclusive online sources, such as digital versions of traditional media, social networks, blogs and search engines. In the light of this changing context, research on science and technology communication has to go beyond the news content and pay attention to the implications and consequences of these new trends in information source, which might be the case of possible effects on public attitude and perception on controverted and socially debated subjects. The main objective of this paper is therefore to explore the possible relationships between the use of certain sources of information and the perceived effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This research was carried out through the statistical analysis of the data obtained from PIKA Online Survey on Science. PIKA means Perception, Information, Knowledge and Attitudes. The PIKA questionnaire was applied to a sample of 2,138 Spanish college students from March 18 to May 4 in 2014. The questionnaire featured on purpose a specific section to measure perception on pseudoscientific issues and CAM therapies along with another set of questions aimed at further knowing about the consumption of news outlets among digital natives in Spain. After applying different SPSS procedures such as Crosstabs and Standardized Adjusted Residuals, the results show that there is a positive association between higher consumption of certain sources of information, such as internet or TV, and a positive attitude towards the most popular CAM therapies. With respect to online sources, individuals that trust the most popular CAM admitted an extensive use of search engines when looking for information about interesting and scientific topics or technological risk.