Posted 31 July 2019
Fifteen scholars at institutions in Canada have reviewed how health misinformation is spread through mass media and have recommended policy and communication correctives.
Reference: Caulfield T. and others. Health misinformation and the power of narrative messaging in the public sphere. Canadian Journal of Bioethics 2:52-60, 2019
They describe problems of: (a) misleading narratives spread through social media; (b) implicit hype of emerging therapies by the popular press, pseudoscience embraced by journalists; (c) use of “scienceploitation” language of quantum physics, stem cells, genetics, and microbiome research for hype; and (d) misleading narratives in health-related crowdfunding. They recommend four “legal and policy tools” followed by seven “social tools” in response:
- Better enforcement of existing truth in advertising law, and/or improvements thereto
- Regulatory policy change and enforcement for health professionals spreading misinformation
- Policy outlining rules for and encouraging expert media engagement and the use of narrative
- Advocacy by nonprofit organizations (e.g., litigation against Goop)
- Advocacy by individuals (official complaints, social media activism)
- Expert engagement in the popular press and on social media to counter misinformation
- Encouragement of social media companies to combat misinformation by modifying platforms
- Opinion editorials
- Use of creative communication strategies that utilize narratives, art, video, etc.
- Support and adoption of further research on effective communication strategies
Source: Consumer Health Digest #19-30, July 28 2019