Misinformation or misinterpretation of information can have life or death consequences. This especially critical for COVID-19. There exits an oversaturation of information which leads to its own crisis, an infodemic. The World Health Organization has defined infodemic as too much information which can be a mix of true, false and/or misleading information. This onslaught of input carries with it its own symptoms of confusion and risk-taking behaviors which can also endanger the health of a population.
Infodemics also have the potential to lead to a mistrust in healthcare officials and the health responses that are recommended. According to the U.S. surgeon general, 70% of false news stories in social media are more likely to be shared than true stories.
So how are we as consumers supposed to identify and interpret accurate COVID information from COVID misinformation?
5 Tips For Evaluating COVID Information
Given the level of sophistication of how information and misinformation enters the public view it won’t be an easy task, but these five tips will help guide you as decipher and digest COVID information.
When was the information written? As scientists learn more about COVID-19, recommendations are consistently revised. What was recommended early in the pandemic may not the be same as what is recommended today.
Who wrote the information? Are the authors of this information medical researchers, clinicians, or specialists in infectious disease or credible association?
What level of evidence supports this information? Is this information just someone expressing their opinion or is this information supported by science?
Is the information you are reading intended for the everyday consumer? Information containing study data or medical jargon could easily be misunderstood.
What is the source of the information? Is the information coming from a government site .gov, a medical journal, or a credible health site .org?
Here are a few expert -based sites which assist in unravelling confusing COVID-19 medical speak for the public.
These are just a few tips to find and evaluate COVID information. When in doubt about information you have read or heard about COVID-19, always feel free to contact the medical team at Franciscan Health for clarification.