Hospitals and Health Systems Can be Leaders in Combating Public Health Misinformation
“The vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella causes autism.” “The risk of taking a statin outweighs its benefit as a powerful tool to prevent heart attacks.” “The flu shot caused me to get the flu.”
These are just a few examples of things that have been scientifically disproven, but the spread of medical misinformation still poses a real threat to individuals and communities. In fact, we know the spread of misinformation in general — and medical misinformation in particular — continues to be on the rise.
More than 70% of people were exposed to medical or health-related misinformation in 2022, according to a study from GoodRx. Of those exposed, almost half are not confident in their ability to discriminate between true health information and misinformation. In addition, social media was cited as the most common source of misinformation.
Hospitals and health systems can play an important role in ensuring patients have trustworthy, accurate and scientifically sound information to help them make the best health care decisions for themselves and their loved ones.
Combating misinformation and arming hospitals and health systems with resources to do so is an important priority for the AHA.
One of the ways we are doing this is through our participation in the Coalition for Trust in Health & Science. Launched last month, the coalition, which includes 50 national organizations, seeks to combat misinformation and help Americans make science-based health decisions for themselves, their families and communities.
This broad alliance represents hospitals, physicians, nurses, psychologists, bioethicists and many other types of health care professionals. We have joined forces to push back against a common enemy, an “infodemic” that has real-world health impacts.
We hope the coalition’s work will be a force multiplier for actions AHA has led for some time to counteract the dangers of misinformation and provide individuals medically and scientifically sound information to inform their health care decisions.
For example, last month, we collaborated with the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association on a new public service announcement encouraging individuals to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 when eligible to protect themselves, their families and communities from serious disease and death.
The PSA continues a three-year collaboration by the associations to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect patients, communities and health care professionals by spreading the message that the updated boosters and other COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and recommended for everyone aged six months and older.
Our caregivers are among the world’s best at repairing bodies and restoring patients to health. Restoring trust is just as important. And caregivers are among the most trusted voices, according to public consumer polls.
The AHA is committed to collaborating with our partners to shine the truth on dangerous public health misinformation of any kind, and replace it with facts and scientific knowledge that can save lives and advance health for all.