Aspirus doctor shares ways to avoid medical misinformation when doing your own research
Medical misinformation has led to people to refusing COVID-19 vaccines, rejecting public health measures, and turning to unproven treatments.
Dr. Jacob Prunuske believes people should do their own research on health topics.
“I really appreciate patients investing in their own health. I think it’s really important that patients do research and understand their health conditions,” he said.
The Aspirus physician just wants to make sure people are getting accurate information.
He says there’s a couple things to looks for.
One simple thing Prunuske suggests is making sure the website you’re finding information is reliable.
Look for ones that end with .gov, .org, or .edu.
“These are sites that tend to be focused on providing information for patients and are less likely to be selling something or to have a particular bias,” he said.
Prunuske also urges people to look into the credentials of the person providing the information.
Asking questions like what they’re perceived bias might be, what experience do they have on the topic, and are there other sources that support what they’re saying.
“If it’s not supported anywhere else and they’re trying to sell you something then I think taking that information with a little bit of grain of salt or caution would be reasonable,” said Prunuske.
You should also be prepared for information to change, especially when it comes to something like COVID-19 that is still relatively new.
Researchers are always learning more.
“As we get more and more data, our ability to make good decisions gets better and better. I think it is important for all of us, doctors, residents, and patients alike to stay up to date as information evolves. Things change. The virus evolves. Our communities change. The environment around us is different. Staying current as things change is really important.”
Aspirus encourages people to learn to identify and avoid sharing health misinformation.
Talk with your family or friends if you’re hearing them share misinformation.
And help address misinformation in your community.