Hospitals and health systems can be leaders in the fight against public health misinformation

“Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism.” “The risk of taking a statin outweighs its benefits as a powerful tool to prevent heart attacks.” “The flu shot made me get the flu.”

These are just a few examples of things that have been scientifically refuted, but the spread of medical misinformation still poses a real threat to individuals and communities. In fact, we know that the spread of misinformation in general – and medical misinformation in particular – continues to increase.

More than 70% of people were exposed to medical or health-related misinformation in 2022, according to research by GoodRx. Of those exposed, almost half are not confident in their ability to distinguish between real health information and misinformation. Additionally, social media was cited as the most common source of misinformation.

Hospitals and healthcare systems can play an important role in ensuring that patients have reliable, accurate and scientifically-based information to help them make the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their loved ones. .

Fighting misinformation and arming hospitals and health systems with the necessary resources is an important priority for the AHA.

One of the ways we do 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 their communities.

This broad alliance represents hospitals, doctors, nurses, psychologists, bioethicists and many other types of health professionals. We have joined forces to beat back a common enemy, an “infodemic” that is impacting health in the real world.

We hope the coalition’s work will be a force multiplier for the actions the AHA has been taking for some time to counter the dangers of misinformation and provide individuals with medically and scientifically sound information to inform their care decisions. health.

For example, last month we collaborated with the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association on a new public service announcement encouraging individuals to get vaccinated and fortified against COVID-19 when eligible. to protect themselves, their families and communities from serious illness and death.

The PSA continues a three-year collaboration between associations to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect patients, communities and healthcare professionals by spreading the message that updated reminders and other COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and recommended for everyone aged six months and over.

Our caregivers are among the best in the world at repairing bodies and restoring patients to health. Restoring trust is equally important. And caregivers are among the most trusted voices, according to public consumer surveys.

The AHA is committed to working with our partners to uncover the truth about dangerous public health misinformation of any kind, and replace it with facts and scientific knowledge that can save lives and advance health. for everyone.

Hospitals and health systems can be leaders in the fight against public health misinformation

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