What type of information is trusted by whom? A multilevel analysis of the stability of the information source-trust association for blood transfusion

Eamonn Ferguson, Alexa Spence, Ellen Townsend, Chris Prowse, Joyce Palmer, Piers Fleming, Joost A. Van Hilten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: It has been suggested that transfusion information from scientific sources (vs. popular sources) is seen as more trustworthy and that interventions should consider using scientific styles. Before such suggestions can be implemented, it is necessary to know if this science source-trust link is observed across different sociodemographic groups and psychological characteristics. A large-scale field-based study examining the importance of sociodemographics and psychological characteristics on the source-trust link was conducted.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: A large field-based experiment (the Euro Blood Substitutes Project) was conducted on four different samples (the general public, blood donors, patients, and health experts) in the UK and The Netherlands (total n = 3935). Questions examined levels of trust about sources of transfusion medicine, various aspects of knowledge, and demographic data.

RESULTS: People differentiated between scientific and popular sources, with scientific sources perceived as more trustworthy. General trust in transfusion medicine was higher for those who believe that they or scientists were knowledgeable about transfusion medicine or genetic modification (GM). This suggests that people do not differentiate in their subjective knowledge between GM and transfusion medicine. This science trust-source relationship was moderated by a variety of demographic (e.g., younger people were more likely to trust scientific sources) and psychological (e.g., those who rate science as knowledgeable were more trusting of scientific sources) factors.

CONCLUSION: The trust-source link is not stable and communications should be targeted to the specific population samples for which they will be most effective; scientifically styled information will be particularly effective for communicating information within certain populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1637-1648
Number of pages12
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

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