One of the most frivolous features of the free worldwide internet is the reliability and dependability of the widespread content available online. While in most cases there is no far-reaching impact of the wasteful information available online, health-related news can prove to be quite disastrous in case it isn’t verified.
With the exorbitant rise in the number of fake health-related reviews, claims, summaries, and uses, the implications are only imaginable. Fake health news is generally divided into 3 broad classifications depending on their origin and implication. The 3 types of health news are-
This sort of news contains information which is frivolous and does not pose any possible harm to the health of its readers. For example, an article on a reputed US newspaper read, “Loud Music at Restaurants Could Be Leading You to Order Burgers over Salads.”
Sometimes, in order to promote a wasteful medical resource, fraudulent information is spread across the internet to catch the reader’s interest. A popular news doing rounds on the internet is that the medicine used to control blood pressure has ingredients which can increase the chances of being prone to pancreatic cancer. This false news has made multiple patients of blood pressure worry about continuing their dedicated dose of the prescribed medicine. In case a person was to blindly trust such a health news, he/ she is being exposed to a risk of multiple adverse effects which may prove to be fatal.
An example of vaccines being harmful to children is the best way to explain this type of health news. Information on many websites infers that vaccinations expose children to a risk of being autistic. This news has been a reason for worry among a large population of patients. Till date, there is no scientific or medical association of this fact by any reliable source. Information like this is downright harmful and makes a person vulnerable to adverse effects. Caution should be exercised and a practicing medical professional must be consulted before paying heed to any gibberish floating on the internet.
Keeping in mind the possible adverse effects of relying on Internet-based health news, a listicle of pointers to keep in mind while reading information, to identify fake health news is given below. As the list is non-exhaustive, a doctor must always be consulted before relying on any advice pertaining to an individual’s health.
Generally, the health-related news is published by newspapers, health-based websites, publications, researchers and broadcasting organizations. We understand how easy it is to present, publicize and promote any information on the internet. Thus, only an article or piece of information presented by a reputable source can only be taken into consideration. The claims backed by unreliable or disreputable sources are mostly false in nature.
Along with taking into account the publishing agency, it is quintessential to check for the credibility of the peer reviewers, researchers, and journals with a good reputation.
It is generally stated that the news being floated by the said article is a “secret” or “what doctors want to hide”. By nature, it is a doctor’s responsibility to treat a patient. So it is to be taken into consideration that if they know a remedy or have an alternative treatment method, that is appropriate, they would not keep it a secret.
Most of the false claims or fake health news consists of multiple numerical data representations. For example, statistics regarding death toll from a certain disease. Information like this is often fabricated as it is impossible to ascertain an exact figure.
A claim that appears to be too good to be true almost always turns out to be false. Even though the reliability of the source is the main defining factor of the nature of the news, absurd claims can be easily distinctively identified.
A doctor is obligated to resolve all medical conditions with the best possible treatment. Furthermore, they are bound by their Hippocratic Oath to provide patients with factually verified information regarding their conditions, disorder, diseases, and treatment. Thus, any claim questioning the credibility of a doctor is often false.
The Internet is a vast pool of information. It is very important to thoroughly review and check for all available evidence relating to a particular claim before believing it.
Most claims and clinical trials have not yet been conducted on humans. It is very important to acknowledge this fact and carefully review a history of human trials.
Before relying on any stated health-related information on the internet, it is advisable to always search for the myths and counter-arguments associated with the stated argument or claim. Websites like DocPrime provide information that helps in underlining the opposing claims or scientific data relating to the news. All myths and hoaxes are also easily available for review on the internet.
Sometimes institutions and firms who have a chance of gaining benefit from the prevalence of certain claims in the market end up propagating wasteful health claims. For example, a chocolate manufacturer would derive benefit from associating the medical benefits of chocolate. This may not hold true in all situations and may act as misleading claims for some individuals.
Most institutions back the promotion of certain claims and news. Although it is easy to omit who is actually deriving benefit from the propagation of such news, it is always advisable to read between the lines in order to protect oneself from falling prey to claims which are false and have a possibility of causing harm.
The above mentioned are a few pointers to keep in mind while reading and accessing health-related news being circulated over the internet.
It is always advisable to consult a doctor or a medical expert before deriving a conclusion from a claim or following suggestions.