WADA details plan to stop public health ‘infodemic’

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation has been the biggest concern. This has led to what some describe as a secondary ‘infodemic’, where permanent damage can be done to trust in institutions due to the sheer volume of misinformation being disseminated in a sensitive and rapidly changing environment, according to a council report Board of Directors adopted at the 2022 WADA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“The public health emergency has undoubtedly deepened and prolonged due to misinformation campaigns sowing distrust of vaccines, pharmaceutical interventions and public health mitigation measures,” the report said. “Medical professionals who spread misinformation give credence to specious claims.”

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“Physicians are a trusted source of information for patients and the public, but the spread of misinformation by a few has implications for the entire profession and causes damage. Physicians have an ethical and professional responsibility to share truthful information, correct misleading and inaccurate information, and direct people to trusted sources of health information,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD. “WADA is committed to fighting misinformation and we need to get to the root of the problem.

“We need to ensure that health professionals who spread misinformation are not able to use high-profile platforms, often benefiting them financially, to spread dangerous health claims,” ​​added Dr Harmon. . “While we are unlikely to undo the damage caused by misinformation campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can act now to help prevent the spread of misinformation in the future.”

The AMA House of Delegates passed a policy to “implement a comprehensive strategy to address health-related misinformation disseminated by healthcare professionals.”

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This strategy will include:

  • Maintain the AMA as a trusted source of factual information for physicians and patients.
  • Ensure that evidence-based medical and public health information is accessible by collaborating with publishers, research institutes and media organizations to develop best practices around paywalls and preprints to improve the access to evidence-based information and analysis.
  • Countering misinformation spread by health professionals through social media platforms and countering the monetization of the spread of misinformation on social media platforms.
  • Educate healthcare professionals and the public on how to recognize misinformation as well as how it is spread.
  • Considering the role of health professional associations as appropriate fact-checking entities for health-related information disseminated by various media platforms.
  • Encourage ongoing training to be available for health professionals who serve as fact checkers to help prevent the spread of health-related information.
  • Ensure that licensing boards have the power to take disciplinary action against healthcare professionals for spreading health-related misinformation and affirm that any speech in which a healthcare professional uses his credentials is professional conduct and may be reviewed by his licensing entity.
  • Ensure specialist boards have the power to take action against board certification for health professionals spreading health-related misinformation.
  • Encourage state and local medical societies to commit to dispelling misinformation in their jurisdictions.

Check out other highlights from the 2022 AMA Annual Meeting.

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