FAKE NEWS, HEALTH LITERACY, AND MISINFORMED PATIENTS: THE FATE OF SCIENTIFIC FACTS IN THE ERA OF DIGITAL MEDICINE.
Fabrication and erroneousness of health news in social media represent an unrealized menace to the public health. Inspecting social media leading distributed news may be instrumental in detection of top fake medical information wrongly educating the society (Orazulike, 2018; Petcu, 2017; Pilkington, 2017; Sternadori, 2017; Tulloch, 2016) and may galvanize authorities to put alerts on predisposed domains or accurately assess those producing fake health news. (Waszak, Kasprzycka-Waszak, and Kubanek, 2018) Exploiting the panics and vulnerabilities of consumers, companies employ unscrupulous marketing strategies to mislead the public and prosper. (Haithcox-Dennis, 2018)
2. Literature Review
Health policy is shaped by determined persons who cut down elaborate notions to snippets that back their viewpoint and that may be contingent on unreliable information (Benedikter, Siepmann, and Reymann, 2017; Caruso et al., 2017; Farber, 2017; Gutu, 2018; Mihaila, 2017) but, as the individuals circulating those sound bites know, they are adequate in accomplishing their policy objectives. (Mainous III, 2018) Just as it is beneficial to suspect scientific falsehoods, unfounded connections and unconfirmed assertions in health care, patients should be circumspect so as to put an end to unsubstantiated contentions, established practices and acceptances in medical education. (Hodges, 2017)
Using data from Morning Consult and Pew Research Center, I performed analyses and made estimates regarding percentage of online news consumers who get news online from news organizations/people they are close with/people they are not particularly close with often/sometimes (of those who get news online from each, percentage who say that the news they get from news organizations/people they are close with/people they are not particularly close with is very/somewhat near to their interests), percentage of each social networking website's users who ever get news on the site, percentage of social media news consumers who click on links to news stories/"like" news stories/share or repost news stories/comment on news stories/post links to news stories themselves/discuss issues in the news on the site/post their own photos or videos of a news event, percentage of news instances through each pathway in which a/no follow-up action was taken, percentage of Facebook news consumers who regularly see news on Facebook about entertainment/people and events in their communities/sports/national government and politics/crime/health and medicine/local government and politics/local weather and traffic/international news/science and technology/business, and percentage of U.S. adults who say they shared a political news story online they later found out/knew at the time was made up.
4. Results and Discussion
Any individual can have access to the internet, but few patients have the comprehension to precisely decipher outcomes of medical research. Plausibly, fake news headlines attract the curiosity of persons worried about a medical condition, and the ensuing clickbait may lead the potential customer to a website or source purposed to make money on the ultimate endorser of the narrative, thus entailing the purchase of remedies, enhancements, tests and procedures not thus far proved to be advisable in such cases. (Bolton and Yaxley, 2017) A flawlessly cognizant public is indispensable to designing prudent substance utilization, prevention, and treatment policies. (Arndt and Jones, 2018) (Figures 1-6)
Figure 1 Percentage of online news consumers who get news online from... often/sometimes Often Sometimes Net News organizations 39% 44% 83% People they are close with 17% 57% 74% People they are not 9% 31% 40% particulary close with Of those who get news online from each percentage who say that the news they get from...is very/somewhat near to their interests Very Somewhat Net News organizations 13% 64% 77% People they are close with 17% 62% 79% People they are not 7% 41% 48% particulary close with Sources: Pew Research Center; my survey among 2,900 individuals conducted June 2018. Note: Table made from bar graph. Figure 2 Percentage of news instances through each pathway in which... No follow-up A follow-up action action was taken was taken Family or friend email/text 29% 71% Search engine 39% 61% Social media 48% 52% News org email/text/alert 52% 42% News org website/app 53% 47% Sources: Pew Research Center; my survey among 2,900 individuals conducted June 2018. Note: Table made from bar graph. Figure 3 Percentage of each social networking website's users who ever get news on the site Reddit 66% Twitter 55% Facebook 50% Google Plus 32% Tumblr 31% YouTube 22% Myspace 16% Linkedln 15% Instagram 15% Vine 12% Pinterest 6% Sources: Pew Research Center; my survey among 2,900 individuals conducted June 2018. Note: Table made from bar graph. Figure 4 Percentage of social media news consumers who... Often Sometimes Net Click on links to news stories 27% 52% 79% "Like" news stories 17% 44% 61% Share or repost news stories 12% 40% 52% Comment on news stories 9% 30% 39% Post links to news stories 7% 31% 38% themselves Discuss issues in the news on 6% 28% 34% the site Post their own photos or 4% 18% 22% videos of a news event Sources: Pew Research Center; my survey among 2,900 individuals conducted June 2018. Note: Table made from bar graph. Figure 5 Percentage of Facebook news consumers who regularly see news on Facebook about... Entertainment 77% People & events in my community 68% Sports 60% National gov't & politics 58% Crime 54% Health & medicine 48% Local gov't & politics 46% Local weather & traffic 44% International news 41% Science & technology 39% Business 34% Sources: Pew Research Center; my survey among 2,900 individuals conducted June 2018. Note: Table made from bar graph. Figure 6 Percentage of U.S. adults who say they... Shared a political news story online they later found out was made up Shared a political news story online 19% they later found out was made up Shared a political news story online 17% they knew at the time was made up Did either/both of these 27% Sources: Pew Research Center; my survey among 2,900 individuals conducted June 2018. Note: Table made from bar graph.
The stream of healthcare and scientific news to the public may be polluted at diverse points along a contaminated flow of information. (Schwitzer, 2017) Unconfirmed therapies may give rise to deceptive expectations in patients with grave medical conditions, faulty claims may add perturbation to already deep-rooted clinical protocols, and inaccurate information regarding adverse side effects or undocumented risks may impede treatment or cause persons to decline relevant preventive health interventions. (Wiederhold, 2017)
This paper was supported by Grant GE-1824624 from the Social Science Research Unit at CLI, Washington, DC.
The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and approved it for publication.
Conflict of Interest Statement
The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
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Spiru Haret University, Bucharest
How to cite: Bratu, Sofia (2018). "Fake News, Health Literacy, and Misinformed Patients: The Fate of Scientific Facts in the Era of Digital Medicine," Analysis and Metaphysics 17: 122-127.
Received 18 August 2018 * Received in revised form 12 October 2018
Accepted 20 October 2018 * Available online 11 December 2018
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|Publication:||Analysis and Metaphysics|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2018|
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