We’re living in an era of unprecedented access to information. Yet, this brings unprecedented challenges, particularly when it comes to health. The increase of false health information has eroded public trust, which is the bedrock of good relations and practices in healthcare. Health information needs to be authentic and trustworthy, with the source of the information clear. So how can we, as healthcare communicators, fight back against misinformation?

The Impact of Health Misinformation

Poorer Personal Health Outcomes: Misinformation can lead to delayed or avoided medical care. It can also lead to a misunderstanding of risk factors, encouraging harmful behaviours.

Risks to Public Health: Misinformation isn’t just a personal matter; it poses significant risks to wider communities. For instance, vaccine misinformation has fuelled the resurgence of preventable diseases like whooping cough and measles.

Financial Strain on Healthcare Systems: The ripple effect extends to healthcare systems, with misinformation driving up costs. Preventable conditions, complications from delayed treatments and managing public health crises all contribute to ballooning expenses.

Tackling Health Misinformation

Empowerment through Education: Improving health literacy is a cornerstone of tackling misinformation. By educating patients and the general public to discern credible health information, we can empower them to make informed decisions about their health.

Transparency is Key: Pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers must prioritise transparency. This means clearly communicating treatment benefits and risks, addressing concerns openly, and providing evidence-based information to rebuild trust.

Harnessing Technology: While technology can spread misinformation, it also holds the key combatting it. Digital tools can help to disseminate accurate information, and tech companies, including social media, can help to flag or remove false content.

Community Engagement: Trust-building within communities is vital. Engaging with leaders, influencers and organisations helps to share accurate information tailored to specific communities, fostering understanding and confidence. Tailoring messages to specific communities ensures they resonate and are more likely to be accepted.

Becoming a Trusted Information Creator

As proud health information creators and communicators, it’s our responsibility to ensure the information we produce is accurate, accessible, and evidence based. At Aurora, our rigorous approach to creating health information has earned recognition from the Patient Information Forum (PIF) through the PIF TICK – the UK’s only assessed quality mark for print and online health and care information.

The PIF launched the PIF TICK in May 2020. In July 2021, PIF launched the website to raise awareness of PIF TICK accredited members and help people find trusted health information. The site also includes guides on topics including spotting false health information and understanding evidence.

Aurora is one of the first healthcare communications agencies to receive accreditation with the PIF TICK, joining over 140 organizations including NHS trusts, patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, and individual health content creators. Our adherence to the 10 key criteria ensures that any health information we create on behalf of our clients can bear the PIF TICK, providing assurance to patients and the public that it meets the highest standards.

By fostering trust, transparency, and promoting health literacy, we empower individuals to make informed health decisions, leading to better outcomes for all.

Today’s post comes to us from Rudy Tambala of GLOBALHealthPR UK partner, Aurora Communications.

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