The US Surgeon General issued an urgent call on July 15, 2021, for all Americans to help slow a major threat to public health.
He wasn’t talking about the COVID-19 pandemic, but rather the adverse impacts of the infodemic—the generation and transmission of an overwhelming amount of incorrect and false health information—on personal and public health.
A study just published online in the American Nurse Journal by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) describes how misinformation spread quickly during the pandemic and how social media platforms (SMPs) exacerbated the problem.
The article “Preventing the Spread of Misinformation—A Role for All Nurses” discusses the vital role nurses play in decreasing the harm caused by health misinformation and assisting patients, families, and communities in finding credible, trustworthy sources. It goes on to explain how nurses can recognize reliable information when working with SMPs.
Antonia M. Villarruel, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Professor, and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at Penn Nursing, says, “Nurses and consumers must develop abilities to analyze information critically.”
“People with high trust in science were more likely to believe and spread misinformation about COVID-19 and genetically modified organisms in the presence of a scientific reference, according to a study.
People with low trust in science were more likely to believe and spread misinformation about COVID-19 and genetically modified organisms in the absence of a scientific reference. These findings highlight the necessity of analyzing information cautiously, even when it comes from reputable sources.”
“During the pandemic, the spread of misinformation has escalated, resulting in an infodemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Confusion and support for habits that are harmful to one’s health, as well as disbelief in science, have a negative impact on the public health response to the epidemic “Richard James, MSLIS, a nursing liaison librarian at Penn Nursing and a co-author of the research, agrees.
The essay is based on a National Academy of Medicine perspectives paper titled “Identifying Credible Sources of Health Information on Social Media: Principles and Attributes,” which Villarruel coauthored.