Posts Tagged ‘misinformation’

Where do you turn when you have a question related to your health? Do you talk to family members or friends whose opinions you respect? Call your primary care provider? Search for answers on the internet or on social media? Every day we encounter information that may impact our health in various ways, both when we are seeking it as well as when we are not. It is important to know how to evaluate the information for validity, as unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation in our world today.

fake news

Valid information is correct, factual information that is based on research. Misinformation is information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading according to the best available evidence at the time. While misinformation is sometimes spread intentionally to serve a malicious purpose, that is seldom the case. Disinformation is a type of misinformation that is intentionally false and intended to mislead or deceive. We may not always fully understand why someone creates or shares harmful information, whether it is intentional or not. However, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, it is important to know that many people who share misinformation are not trying to misinform; instead, they may be raising a concern, striving to make sense of conflicting information, or seeking answers to honest questions.

If you ever encounter health-related information from a person, website, newspaper, TV station or social media account that you are not sure about, use the below Health Information Checklist from the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General to decide what to do with it.

Health Misinformation checklist from surgeongeneral.gov/healthmisinformation
Click to enlarge, or access in pdf form at SurgeonGeneral.gov/HealthMisinformation

In addition, you can investigate the credibility of the information by checking its source (both the author and/or organization responsible for the information), the date it was published, the quantity and quality of evidence cited, and whether it is in agreement with information from other reputable sources. Also consider whether the source of the information is biased. Does it provide information based on a single point of view or preference rather than presenting all the facts? Does the author or source earn money for sharing certain information? Ask yourself “Does this source have a reason to offer one point of view over another?”

Do your part today to identify and stop the spread of misinformation. Think twice about the information you see, hear and share. If you’re not sure, don’t share! According to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy “We all have the power to shape our information environment… one that empowers us to build a healthier, kinder, and more connected world.”

Written by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by Melissa J. Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fulton County


Gebel, M. (2021). Misinformation vs. disinformation: What to know about each form of false information, and how to spot them online. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/misinformation-vs-disinformation

National Institute on Drug Abuse (2021). Is this legit? Accessing valid and reliable health information. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/teachers/lessonplans/legit-accessing-valid-and-reliable-health-information

Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services (2021). A Community Toolkit for Addressing Health Misinformation. https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/health-misinformation-toolkit-english.pdf

Read Full Post »