Nurses Can Help Defeat Health Misinformation
An article in American Nurse Journal challenges nurses to take an active role in combatting health misinformation. Misinformation is “false, inaccurate, or misleading information” and it has proliferated at alarming rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in what the World Health Organization calls an “infodemic.”
The article, co-authored by Antonia M. Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at Penn Nursing, argues that “nurses have an important role in helping patients, families, and communities access credible, trusted health information.” And further, that “nurses should consider the foundational attributes of information sources when engaging on social media platforms where professional, social, and familial identities may converge.” (The article has a lot to say about social media platforms’ responsibility for this problem.)
Villarruel, who is also a co-chair of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action’s Strategic Advisory Committee, says, “nurses and consumers must develop skills to evaluate information critically.” The article takes a deep dive on proven methods for assessing the quality and reliability of information, including one called the CRAAP or CRAP test, which “encourages users to walk through brief pathways to identify key areas of online source credibility.” The key areas forming the apt acronym are Currency, Relevance, Authority/Accuracy and Purpose. The Campaign for Action is an initiative of AARP Foundation, AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The article notes that the U.S. Surgeon General has asked all Americans to help slow the creation and spread of health misinformation because it is harming both individual and public health. As Villarruel explains it, “prevention is better than cure. Treating people for the harms of the infodemic is both difficult and uncertain, but nurses have access to a wealth of tools, principles, and approaches for ensuring that patients and communities receive evidence-based, up-to-date, and credible health information.”