To share or not to share: The role of epistemic belief in online health rumors

Alton Y.K. Chua*, Snehasish Banerjee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives This paper investigates the role of epistemic belief in affecting Internet users’ decision to share online health rumors. To delve deeper, it examines how the characteristics of rumors—true or false, textual or pictorial, dread or wish—shape the decision-making among epistemologically naïve and robust users separately. Methods An experiment was conducted. Responses were obtained from 110 participants, who were exposed to eight rumors. This yielded 880 cases (110 participants × 8 rumors) for statistical analyses. Results Epistemologically naive participants were more likely to share online health rumors than epistemologically robust individuals. Epistemologically robust participants were more likely to share textual rumors than pictorial ones. However, there were no differences between true and false rumors or between dread and wish rumors for either epistemologically naive or robust participants. Conclusions This paper contributes to the understanding of users’ health information sharing behavior. It encourages users to cultivate robust epistemic belief in order to improve their online health information processing skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
JournalInternational journal of medical informatics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Epistemic belief
  • Health care
  • Information science
  • Online healthcare community
  • Rumor diffusion
  • Social media

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