Recently joined The Coalition for Trust in Health & Science includes 50 medical organizations with the aim of enhancing the public's trust in the health and medical system
March 10, 2023 (ACP) — Amid a slew of misinformation and disinformation that emerged with the COVID-19 pandemic, the American College of Physicians has been a leading voice in the fight for the truth, ACP began combatting misinformation and disinformation early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Misinformation refers to false information that is spread without an intention to mislead. Disinformation, in contrast, is distributed by people who know it is wrong and purposefully intend to deceive and now ACP is expanding its efforts by joining a coalition of 50 organizations devoted to supporting science-based health information in the long term.
The Coalition for Trust in Health & Science — which also includes major medical societies such as the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and American Nurses Association — aims to increase the public's access to evidence-based information necessary to make their own appropriate health decisions and enhance the public's trust in the health and medical system.
“ACP is really excited to be part of this coalition, “said Dr. Darilyn V. Moyer, ACP executive vice president and chief executive officer. “We're joining with our friends, colleagues and patient groups in the space to understand the most impactful ways that we can address misinformation to get better care for patients.”,
ACP began combatting misinformation and disinformation early in the COVID-19 pandemic. As Moyer noted, misinformation refers to false information that is spread without an intention to mislead. Disinformation, in contrast, is distributed by people who know it is wrong and purposefully intend to deceive.
In April 2020, ACP debuted its COVID-19 Resource Center, which provided real-time, up-to-date information and comprehensive resources during the pandemic. Resources included the Physician's Guide to COVID-19 and provided guidance in the realms of clinical, public, and ethical policy, as well as other educational materials concerning COVID-19, vaccines, and related issues.
As part of the ACP effort, the Annals of Internal Medicine and Annals of Internal Medicine Clinical Cases have published more than 500 articles combined about the disease. “We understood early on that it was crucially important to publish original, evidence-based scientific content on a weekly basis,” Moyer said.
ACP and the Annals of Internal Medicine also began hosting forums for members on a variety of clinical and public health topics. “We've been hosting them about every two to three months since the fall of 2020,” she added. In addition to COVID-19, topics have included firearm safety and mpox.
Also, the ACP Scientific Medical Policy Committee has played a crucial role in rapidly delivering reliable clinical advice to ACP members through Rapid, Living Practice Points. The Clinical Guidelines Committee also provides Clinical Guidelines.
In addition, ACP recognized that it needed to directly reach the public. “Having lived through the activism of the AIDS epidemic, we recognized that we absolutely need to engage patients in our communities,” Dr. Moyer said. “And we need to do it with trusted messengers.”
That is why ACP became the first professional medical organization to partner with YouTube to fight back against false claims about COVID-19. A series of videos produced in collaboration with YouTube include “Ask Your Internal Medicine Physician” segments aimed at the general public. Some of the videos have received more than 130,000 views.
ACP also serves on the advisory committee for the initiative by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, National Academy of Medicine and World Health Organization to Identify Credible Sources of Health Information that could be used by social media companies.
Members of the newest ACP collaboration effort, the Coalition for Trust in Health & Science, share a vision that “all people have equitable access to the accurate, understandable and relevant information necessary to make personally appropriate health choices and decisions.”
As stated on its website, the coalition aims to “contribute to a measurable increase in public trust in the health and health care system and, more broadly, in public health and science organizations and their representatives, so that everyone can access, understand and have confidence in the reliability of the information they need to make evidence-based, personally appropriate health and health care decisions.”
In addition, the coalition will “effectively correct misinformation and counter disinformation that decreases trust in health, health care, public health and science and that has the potential to harm the public's health.”
Moyer said the coalition will serve as a clearinghouse for best practices and reliable resources on the anti-misinformation front. “We're going to share tools and tactics,” she said.
On its website, the coalition states: “We cannot continue to successfully earn the public's trust, nor protect their health, heal, and prevent unnecessary deaths contributed to by distrust and misinformation, unless we come together.”
For more information on ACP's efforts visit acponline.org/misinformation.
Back to the March 10, 2023 issue of ACP Advocate