Danger of health misinformation online, long a concern of medical and public health professionals, has come to the forefront of societal concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of their motives, creators and sharers of misinformation promote non-evidence-based health advice and treatment recommendations, and often deny health methods, measures, and approaches that are supported by the best evidence of the time. Unfortunately, many infrastructural, social, and cognitive factors make individuals vulnerable to misinformation.
This book aims to assist information and health professionals and educators with all phases of information provision and support, from understanding users’ information needs, to building relationships, to helping users verify and evaluate sources. The book can be used as a textbook in library and information science programs, as well as nursing, communication, journalism, psychology, and informatics programs.
The book, written from the e-health literacy perspective, is unique in its nuanced approach to misinformation. It draws on psychology and information science to explain human susceptibility to misinformation and discusses ways to engage with the public deeply and meaningfully, fostering trust and raising health and information literacy.
It is organized into three parts.
Part I: The Ecology of Online Health Information' overviews the digital health information universe, showing that misinformation is prevalent, dangerous, and difficult to define.
Part II: Susceptibility to Misinformation: Literacies as Safeguards addresses factors and competencies that affect individual vulnerability and resilience.
Part III: Solutions focuses on education and community engagement initiatives that help the public locate and evaluate health information.
Chapters within the three Parts discuss technological innovation and social media as posing novel risks as well as presenting novel solutions to helping the public connect with high quality information and building trusting relationships among the public and information and health professionals.
Catherine Arnott Smith, PhD, is Professor in the Information School and a Discovery Fellow, Virtual Environments Group, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a former medical librarian who moved into biomedical informatics for her PhD through the Center (now Department) of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh (2002), where she was a National Library of Medicine medical informatics predoctoral trainee. Her research centers on consumer interactions with clinical information systems, mediated through text, in settings that range from patient portals to public libraries to disabilities support centers.
Alla Keselman, PhD, is a Senior Social Science Analyst in the Office of Engagement and Training, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD. She holds a PhD in human cognition and learning and an MA in biomedical informatics from Columbia University. Dr. Keselman coordinates NLM efforts in evaluating the impact of its health information outreach and community engagement programs. Her research interests include lay understanding of complex health concepts, scientific literacy, and the provision of health information outside clinical settings. She has done work on bringing health and environment-related topics to the science classroom and conducted research into the role of libraries in providing health information to the public.
Jointly, Dr. Catherine Arnott Smith and Dr. Alla Keselman co-edited "Meeting Health Information Needs Outside Of Healthcare: Opportunities and Challenges" (2015, Elsevier) and co-wrote "Consumer Health Informatics: Enabling Digital Health for Everyone" (in press Dec 2020, Chapman & Hall).
Amanda J. Wilson, MLS, is Chief, Office of Engagement and Training (OET) at the National Library of Medicine. She holds a MS in Library Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BA in music and psychology from Emory University. OET brings together the general engagement, training, and other outreach staff from across the library whose primary focus has been on the Library's presence across the U.S. and internationally, and coordinates the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), the field force for the National Library of Medicine. Wilson is also an adjunct professor at The Catholic University of America Department of Library and Information Science.
Part I: The Ecology of Online Health Information
Chapter 1. Defining Health Misinformation.
Chapter 2. The Ecology of Online Health Information and COVID-19 Misinformation.
Chapter 3. The Health Misinformation Ecosystem on Social Media: Emerging Evidence and Research Gaps.
Chapter 4. Flies in the Ointment: Vaccine-hesitancy and Bad Medical Advice During the Russian COVID-19 Pandemic.
Part II: Susceptibility to Misinformation; Literacies as Safeguards
Chapter 5. Let the Reader and Viewer Beware: Quality Markers for Health Information.
Chapter 6. Preventing Health Number Confusion Through Clear Communication Design.
Chapter 7. The Case of Everyday Science: Science Literacy and Resilience Against Health Misinformation.
Chapter 8. An Examination of the Multiple Dimensions of Public Trust in Science as Health Misinformation Roadblocks.
Chapter 9. Critical Cultural Literacy Education as a Bridge to Improving Health Disparities in BIPOC Communities.
Part III: Practice
Chapter 10. When Medical Practice Meets Medical Myth: Confronting Misinformation in the Clinical Encounter.
Chapter 11. Teaching Young People to Think Critically about Health Claims and Choices.
Chapter 12. Medical Professionals Using Social Media to Combat Misinformation.
Chapter 13. Participation, Empowerment, and Equity: Addressing eHealth Misinformation with Community Engagement in Libraries.
Chapter 14. Addressing Health Misinformation in the Infodemic Era: The Alaska Public Health Information Response Team.
About the Editors
About the Contributors
COVID, the political climate, and the pervasive use of online resources and social media have created an environment of distrust and unbelief in science and evidence-based medical information. This handbook, edited by Keselman, Catherine Arnott Smith, and Amanda J. Wilson with contributions from academics and medical librarians, provides information about the roots of this problem and methods to combat it. The book has three parts. The first focuses on definitions, noting that misinformation is explicitly false while disinformation is a deliberate attempt to mislead. The authors discuss the ecology of misinformation and the major role of social media in disseminating it. Part two covers professional practice and how healthcare professionals, educators, and community workers encounter misinformation as they work. The authors emphasize the importance of teaching young people critical thinking so that they can evaluate sources and use social media effectively to get reliable information to the public. Part three examines community engagement, focusing on how public libraries can teach about misinformation and offer tools and techniques for finding reliable, evidence-based information. A well-researched and useful resource for librarians providing health and medical information to the public.
Combating Online Health Misinformation: A Professional’s guide to Helping the Public does an excellent job of describing health misinformation and disinformation; why we fall for it and how we can combat it. It covers timely topics such as the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine hesitancy and the role that social media plays in disseminating health mis- and disinformation; and aids in understanding the multi-faceted reasons the public believes in false or biased information sources. Health, social media, cultural and science literacy are critically important in identifying misinformation, and the authors offer both insight and practical guidance for librarians, educators, policy makers and healthcare professionals on how to engage and empower their communities to improve their knowledge and understanding of health information.
If you are looking to combat the all-important problem of health misinformation, I can heartily recommend Combating Online Health Misinformation: A Professional's Guide to Helping the Public.
I highly recommend this title to any professional who works to engage science, health and information literacy in all contexts. Its depth of coverage is wide-ranging and its value is in the stellar writing and exemplary authority.
Combating Online Health Misinformation provides an in-depth look at health misinformation from a health information professional’s viewpoint. The book offers a helpful breakdown of how health misinformation spreads and how librarians and health care professionals can combat it. The book’s contributors show that the infodemic is difficult enough to conceptualize, let alone fight, and combating online misinformation is not easy given how quickly it spreads. In a way, this turns a book focused on misinformation into something comforting as it reminds health care practitioners and information professionals that they are not alone in fighting health misinformation, even if it is a battle that must be fought every time new misinformation surfaces.
5/12/22, Choice: This book was featured in a roundup of forthcoming titles in science & technology.
6/9/22, Choice: This book was included in a roundup of forthcoming library and information science titles.