Review: The truth about COVID-19

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Review: The truth about COVID-19

Review: The truth about COVID-19

This article provides media literacy tips to help evaluate information about COVID-19.

Following the Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) enacted a policy that scientific publishers worldwide would make research and data on public health emergencies freely available. What this has meant for the COVID-19 pandemic is that there is a wealth of information circulating that has little quality control, and for individuals without research literacy, the information is almost indecipherable. The amount of misinterpretation is excessive. When communicating complex messages, it is important to adhere to the following guidance:

  • Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know
  • Check the sources of information
  • Ask relevant experts
  • Remember that there is uncertainty in science

Because each stakeholder (e.g., scientific community, layperson, educated health professional) develops their own narrative based on their own expertise, public health and political officials need to address the anxieties and fears communicated in the narratives to lessen the risk of widespread panic and noncompliance. Individuals also have a responsibility to educate themselves on how to scrutinize information to assess its validity by asking the following questions:

  • What is the source?
  • Who are the authors? What are their qualifications and conflicts of interest?
  • Is this peer-reviewed?
  • How old is the source?
  • Are there additional sources confirming or disagreeing with this source? If so, what seems to be the consensus view?
  • What do the major independent institutions (CDC, WHO) say about the information?
  • What, if any, discrepancies do I see in the source with an untrained eye?

By following these guidelines, the risk of believing and perpetuating misconceptions is lessened.

|2020-05-04T11:55:37-04:00May 4th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|0 Comments

About the Author: Maria Brann

Maria Brann
Dr. Maria Brann, PhD, MPH, is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and affiliate faculty with the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University. She explores the integration of health, interpersonal, and gender communication. Her translational focus and mixed methods approach are woven throughout her health vulnerabilities research, which advocates for more effective communication to improve people’s health and safety. Her primary research interests focus on the study of women’s and ethical issues in health communication contexts and promotion of healthy lifestyle behaviors to improve personal and public health and safety. She researches communication at both the micro and macro levels and studies how communication influences relationships among individuals and with the social world.

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