Harm lies in the power of false information to shape offline health behaviors and undermine individual and public health. Human psychology and sociocultural factors leave humans highly vulnerable to accepting and spreading false health information. Simultaneously, technological advances have fostered an age where misinformation can be widely accessed and shared. As a result, medical misinformation is now pervasive, standing as one of the top threats to public health worldwide.
Grounded in the science of misinformation, the toolkit then provides strategies for addressing patient-held misinformation in clinical settings. In our “Three C” approach, providers are encouraged to practice empathy, employ curiosity, and acknowledge resource constraints through compassionate conversations oriented towards patient-provider relationships built on trust and supporting the health and wellbeing of patients.
In clinical settings, providers have been forced to grapple with this challenge. Yet, addressing misinformation in person with patients has been largely left out of medical education and training.
To help address this gap and counter the offline impacts of online medical misinformation, a team of collaborators from the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Technology and Social Change Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, the University of Michigan School of Information, the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, and the Alfred Landecker Democracy Fellowship have created the MisinfoRx Toolkit.