Good healthcare requires people to make informed, evidence-based decisions about their health. However, many people are overwhelmed with information, particularly about what they can do to improve or protect their health. Increasing amounts of health information now spread faster and further through multiple channels, including the web, social media, instant messaging, television and radio. Much of this information is unreliable. Unreliable information leads to poorly informed choices, under-or over-use of health interventions (or treatments) and avoidable waste and human suffering.
Members of the public can submit questions to iHealthFacts about claims regarding health and healthcare that they’ve come across on social media and elsewhere. The iHealthFacts team undertakes rapid reviews of the evidence related to the question. We also appraise the quality of the included evidence. Once a response is drafted, it undergoes a thorough review process involving a subject or methodological expert, our public/patient partners, and a health journalist. This collaborative approach helps ensure that the information we share is meaningful and accessible to our target audiences. By delivering accurate and understandable content, we aim to bolster the resilience of individuals and communities against misinformation.
In addition to producing accurate and reliable information on a topic, we aim to raise public awareness of how they can assess the reliability of health claims. We do this by linking each of our answers to a number of ‘Key Concepts’ from the Informed Health Choices initiative. For example, one key concept describes systematic reviews and why they are often the best way to answer health questions. Another key concept urges people to consider whether the advantages of a treatment outweigh the disadvantages.
We believe reliable and trustworthy information is a key determinant of beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. Yet, citizens in every country are exposed to misinformation and addressing it is a critically important challenge. Addressing the challenge means that we must be able to communicate and exchange information and respond to our communities. We believe that the iHealthFacts initiative provides a unique and innovative approach to empower the public and encourage critical thinking in health related decision-making.
Objectives Our objectives are twofold. Firstly, the iHealthFacts team identifies and prioritises questions the public have about the effects of health care interventions (health claims), answers questions and shares answers with the public in a meaningful, accessible way. Secondly, by linking each answer with relevant Informed Health Choices ‘Key Concepts’ we aim to enhance critical thinking and analysis of health claims among the public.
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