Understanding vulnerability to online health misinformation

The Alan Turing Institute has published a report exploring who is most vulnerable to health-related misinformation. 

Several large-scale research projects have started during the coronavirus pandemic with the aim of understanding the nature, prevalence and spread of health-related misinformation online.

However, Alan Turing researchers say relatively little is known about who is vulnerable to believing false information and why. 

They believe this is crucial for developing more targeted and effective interventions which tackle the root causes of misinformation. 

Researchers conducted original research using a survey and assessments to understand which individuals are most vulnerable to believing health-related misinformation and the role played by the content that individuals are exposed to. Key findings include:

  • Individuals with higher digital, numerical and health literacy and cognitive skills are better at assessing the veracity of health-related statements. Their years of education do not make a difference.
  • Individuals who are at risk of COVID-19 are slightly better at assessing health-related statements while those who are afraid of COVID-19 are slightly worse.
  • Most sociodemographic, socioeconomic and political factors make little or no difference. However, older people are slightly better at assessing health-related statements.
  • When participants were shown true content they were better at assessing health-related statements.
  • Giving participants warnings about misinformation before they made assessments had a very small effect on how accurate they were.
  • People have inconsistent knowledge about health.

Alan Turing Institute

Calls to improve shared decision making in the NHS

AbbVie has launched a policy report looking at the role patients and their families should have in the decisions made about their medical care and treatment.

The report draws on the findings from AbbVie’s roundtable discussions, chaired by Lib Dem Peer Baroness Judith Jolly, which PIF took part in.

It calls for shared decision making (SDM) to be embedded fully in the NHS to ensure improved patient outcomes. 

Empowering Conversations: Making Shared Decision Making a reality for patients in an evolving NHS identifies three central pillars of opportunity for SDM:

  • Enabling empowered conversations through support for both healthcare professionals and patients.
  • Achieving buy-in through increased levels of support, visibility and understanding of SDM amongst senior leadership at board level.
  • Utilising the opportunity to re-engineer pathways and processes during NHS Restart to embed SDM into treatment pathways.


Pressures of pandemic shine light on inconsistent approaches to DNACPR decisions

A new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found worrying variation in people’s experiences of do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) decisions during the pandemic. 

While there were some examples of good practice, CQC also heard from people who were not properly involved in decisions or were unaware an important decision about their care had been made.

Protect, respect, connect – decisions about living and dying well during COVID-19 calls for the establishing of a Ministerial Oversight Group to take responsibility for delivering improvements in this area.

The report ties into wider conversations about the importance of shared decision making which PIF is taking part in.


Health inequalities, vaccination and community-centred approaches

The Coalition for Personalised Care has released a report identifying key issues in tackling COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and reluctance.

Health Inequalities, the Covid Vaccination & Community-Centred Approaches was produced following a roundtable event.

It is hoped the insight gathered will improve understanding within the NHS and Government of how best to influence vaccine take-up.

The report highlights ways to overcome the most prevalent barriers to health equality including:

  • More robust, granular data, collated holistically, and applied to the particular circumstances of minority groups.
  • Targeted local approaches actively supported by the NHS.
  • Effective community engagement and empowerment to overcome mistrust and foster greater co-production of local solutions.

Coalition for Personalised Care

Research Collection: Improving men’s health outcomes

A new Collection brings together evidence from research funded or supported by NIHR about ways to improve particular men’s health outcomes. 

Three of the Alerts concern prostate cancer, the most commonly-diagnosed cancer in the UK.

The Collection also looks at two other issues relating to men’s health outcomes – treatment options for urethral narrowing and the use of ‘prehabilitation’ before urological cancer surgery. 

A number of health professionals, research experts and people with lived experience commented on the Alerts most relevant to them. Common themes include:

  • How reading evidence can improve understanding of the risks associated with procedures and interventions and the gains in quality of life that may be possible.
  • The importance of understanding the ‘trade off’ between different treatment pathways.
  • How helpful clear evidence can be when doctors and patients discuss treatment options.
  • The potential for patients to feel empowered in decisions about their condition and treatment.


What your patient is thinking

The BMJ has published a new article in its What your patient is thinking series which offers insight into patient experience.

In the latest article, Brenda Denzler describes how earlier traumatic experiences of medical treatment continue to have an impact to this day.

Brenda emphasises the importance of making patients feel empowered and including them as active partners in diagnosis and treatment decisions.


NHS can take ‘bigger and bolder’ steps on digital

This report from Digital Health Rewired 2021 outlines the talk by chief executive of NHSX Matthew Gould.

He said the NHS took 'bigger and bolder' steps on digital during the COVID-19 pandemic and needs to 'bottle that spirit'.

Matthew also spoke about the importance of health data in improving patient safety.

Digital Health

Listen: That Co-production Podcast

Research Design Service South East, in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research Centre for Engagement and Dissemination, has launched a podcast series – That Co-production Podcast!. 

The intention is to increase the accessibility of discussion, debate and issues related to co-production.  

Two episodes have already been released with more scheduled from now until 21 April.

Research Design Service South East

Study: How user participation manifests itself within co‐design

A new study aims to describe how user participation manifests itself within a co‐design process involving patients, significant others and health‐care professionals.

The study was conducted during the co-design of a new person‐centred transition from a hospital to continued rehabilitation in the home.

Authors said participation is not something realised by only applying participatory design methodology. 

It manifests through the interaction of the participants and their skills to handle different perspectives, roles and assignments. 

They concluded co‐design processes should allow for varying levels of participation among the participants and throughout the process.

Wiley Online Library

State of health and care: The NHS Long Term Plan after COVID-19

New analysis by IPPR, The Progressive Policy Think Tank, shows how the NHS Long Term Plan has been disrupted by COVID-19 and recommends six changes to 'build back better'.

The package of changes is designed to ensure the pandemic does not cause lasting damage to healthcare, incorporates areas not covered by the Long Term Plan and captures innovations that occurred during the pandemic. The six recommendations are:

  • Ensure a sustainable workforce.
  • Fund the NHS to deliver and sustain transformation.
  • Empower integration from the bottom up.
  • Upgrade the digital NHS.
  • Fund and reform social care.
  • Level up the nation's health.


COVID-19 vaccine community language videos

Near Neighbours has produced some short videos in several community languages to help people understand public health advice around the COVID-19 vaccine.

The videos are free to download for use in communications and on social media channels.

Twitter and Instagram optimised videos are available on request.

Near Neighbours

Consultation: Babies, children and young people's experience of healthcare

NICE is consulting on a draft guideline describing good patient experience for babies, children and young people, and how it can be delivered.

The consultation closes at 5pm on 16 April, 2021, with final guidance expected to be published on 25 August.


Patient questions on COVID-19 vaccines and fertility

The British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists have created a document in response to patient questions about COVID-19 vaccines and fertility. 

The information was originally published in February. The document was shared by the Department of Health and Social Care this week after it found a large amount of staff questions about vaccines related to fertility.

British Fertility Society