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Health misinformation is increasing online according to studies

Results reveal Australians may be at risk:

New studies have revealed an increasing number of Australians are being exposed to misinformation about their health online.

According to the experts at House Call Doctor, social media platforms are loaded with inaccurate information on critical health topics.

The facts:

According to public health researcher Maryke Steffens, there has been a drastic increase in the spread of misinformation and clinical evidence online.

“One study suggests that up to a third of YouTube videos on certain health topics have inaccurate or distorted information,” Ms Steffens said.

“Another study looking at Facebook vaccination pages found that over half of the posts weren’t in line with official guidelines for immunisations and so were providing incorrect information.”

In August 2018, a social media report revealed 60% of Australians used Facebook and YouTube. That is around 15 million active users.

On top of that, a 2016 Sensis revealed that 35% of all Australians use social media as their main source of news and information on current affairs.

What you should do:

The basis of all our health decisions should be from medical research, evidence and experts, however, when it is mixed with online opinions and beliefs of users online, it can easily become misinterpreted and the real information can disappear.

Social media can be a valuable source for up-to-date information if you follow reliable health and news authorities (such as Queensland Health) – however, if you follow the wrong sources, information is easily misconstrued.

If you ever have medical questions, it is best to consult a health expert such as an after-hours doctor, as the implications of medical misinformation on our health can be alarming and potentially fatal.


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