TELL HEALTH BLOG

Addressing Medical Misinformation

Addressing Medical Misinformation
January 12, 2022
Haley Handelman

Impact of Social Media

Social media has rapidly transformed communication, allowing people to easily access news and entertainment and quickly grow an audience through likes, shares, and reposts. However, its widespread usage and ease of access have increasingly permeated misinformation. 

Social media has generated a plethora of healthcare misinformation, false unproven medical statements, which detrimentally affect people. Misinformation is not inherently malicious, frequently users share what they believe to be accurate and misinformation exponentially grows through their followers - highlighting the importance of sharing verified and credible health information. 

The Threat to Public Health

The World Health Organization characterized the coupling of the COVID-19 pandemic and health misinformation as an “infodemic” - excessive misinformation during a disease outbreak that grows public uncertainty and confusion. Current U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murphy emphasized the urgent need to combat the threat of health misinformation in his first General Advisory, “It can cause confusion, sow mistrust, harm people’s health, and undermine public health efforts. Limiting the spread of health misinformation is a moral and civic imperative that will require a whole-of-society effort.”

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute analyzed social media articles surrounding the four most common cancers and found 32.5% of the articles contain misinformation and 30.5% of the articles contain harmful information. The articles with misinformation also garnered more user engagement compared to the factual evidence-based articles, spreading more easily and possibly dissuading cancer patients from effective treatments. 

The Solution

Tell Health is an online community that brings doctors and patients closer together - allowing freer communication while limiting healthcare misinformation.

Tell Health’s “public posts” feature combines the attractive qualities of social media with the accuracy of published content by only allowing verified licensed medical providers to post. The posts function as a social platform where users can follow their providers, and others, for the latest healthcare news, research, and advice on topics of interest to them.

To learn more, visit https://www.tell.health.


References:

  1. Office of the Surgeon General (OSG). Confronting Health Misinformation: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Healthy Information Environment [Internet]. Washington (DC): US Department of Health and Human Services; 2021. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK572169/
  2. Cancer Misinformation and Harmful Information on Facebook and Other Social Media: A Brief Report, JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2021;, djab141, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djab141

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