How to Stop Medical Misinformation from Senior Patients - image

How to Stop Medical Misinformation from Senior Patients

Social media has created a national platform for Americans to share any information they want. Unfortunately, much of this information has no basis of fact behind it. People tend to post their assumptions, rumors, suspicions and then pass them off as fact. This has become dangerous for people seeking medical advice, especially seniors.

Numerous studies have found that older people and senior citizens in America consume and spread misinformation at higher rates than most other demographics. What’s even more surprising is that the consumption and publication of this information take place on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

According to a 2019 study, people 65 years of age or older have a seven times greater chance of publishing misinformation on Facebook than users between 18 and 29 years of age. And due to the COVID-19 pandemic, medical misinformation on social media has become a dangerous epidemic that hurts seniors across the country.

Think about how many people believe that COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective and that masks don’t work. Why do so many people believe in these things when international scientific communities have endorsed the effectiveness of vaccines and wearing masks? The people spreading these rumors on Facebook are certainly not doctors, nor are they listening to real doctors. Instead, they are spreading nonsense that is harming and killing people.

For this reason, people should not seek medical advice from any online source, such as a social media website or blog. Instead, the best place to get accurate medical information is to contact a doctor or visit the website of a licensed physician.

How Doctors Can Address Medical Misinformation

Doctors have a sworn duty to provide the best possible treatment to their patients. However, the challenge for doctors is convincing their patients that the misinformation they read online is false.

Patients may come to doctors to request a specific medication they read about online for treating COVID-19 or some other health issue. If the doctor refuses to provide the treatment, the patient could become angry and hostile. As a healthcare provider, you cannot get mad in return. It is best to remain professional by politely explaining to the patient why their recommendation does not work for treating their problem.

When you see a patient, try to listen to their thoughts and concerns. The goal is to fully understand their problem and what they believe is true about it. Then use your professional knowledge of medicine to separate the fact from fiction. And If the patient tells you about a particular medicine they found online, ask them to list the source of this information.

In most cases, the patient will list an unverified or unprofessional online source with no medical or scientific credibility whatsoever. You can attempt to explain that to them in a way that is easy to understand. Show them that their sources are from non-medical professionals with no training in the field. Since many of these patients might be seniors, they tend to have more trouble understanding the concept of online misinformation. So, you have to explain how and why this medical information is false.

No patient likes to admit they’re wrong. That is why it’s so hard to convince people to change their minds. It’s even more challenging to convince seniors because they are set in their way of thinking. Therefore, all you can do is present the factors, show evidence, and remain professional.

Ultimately, the patient has to find the courage to admit they were wrong. Please don’t throw it in their face or make them feel bad about it. In fact, you should do just the opposite by comforting them and explaining how it is easy to be deceived by online misinformation. If you can make them feel smarter about knowing the truth now, they will have the confidence in themselves not to get misled by online misinformation ever again.

Encourage Patient Conversations

Medical misinformation will continue to be an epidemic long after COVID-19 is behind us. Doctors must continue to spread accurate and honest medical information to their patients and the public. Perhaps if more doctors used social media to spread accurate information, more people would see it.

Overall, doctors need to encourage their patients to contact them whenever they have questions about their health and wellness. There needs to be a platform where patients can feel comfortable sharing their concerns without judgment. If you can create a platform like that for patients, then it will lead to positive results most of the time.

Primary Medical Care Center – A Judgment-Free Facility

Seniors with health questions can contact Primary Medical Care Center anytime. Our doctors never pass judgment on any patient. We listen to their concerns and offer valuable medical-based advice on how they can treat and overcome their health problems.

Would you like to know more information? Contact us at (305) 751-1500.