Tackling health misinformation on social media

Superdrug has published a report exploring how people in the UK use social media to find information and advice about their general and sexual health. 

A survey of 2,000 UK social media users found 80% view health and sexual health advice on social media, with 16% viewing it regularly.

Viewing incorrect or misleading content can have a negative impact on mental health (65%), general confidence (63%), personal relationships (53%), and social life (50%).

In particular, the survey looked at TikTok – one of the fastest growing social media platforms with more than 50 billion views on the #health hashtag and 1.5 billion views on the topic of sexual health. Key findings include:

  • 42% believe TikTok is the most accessible platform for health related content
  • 43% said they learned more about sexual health from TikTok than they did at school
  • 25% said advice from TikTok had negatively impacted personal relationships or their mental health
  • 59% have seen untrue or misleading health information on TikTok
  • 10% have taken action on advice that turned out to be inaccurate.

Read more about the report via the Superdrug Online Doctor website here.

Cancer in the UK: Overview 2023

PIF member Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has published its annual Cancer in the UK report.

The report summarises key metrics and data across the cancer pathway, including prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. 

It also sets out core challenges facing cancer services and people affected by cancer.

Read the full report via the CRUK website here.

'Racism is the root cause of ethnic inequalities in health'

Racism is the cause of health inequity, from birth through to adulthood and into later life, according to a report by the Race Equality Foundation.

Researchers looked at Understanding Society data which found racism is a key driver of ethnic inequalities in health. 

It has an impact in childhood – with children from ethnic backgrounds being born at a lower birthweight and not hitting developmental milestones –  and on life-limiting long-term illness and mental illness in adulthood.

The report finds racism leads directly to poorer health for minoritised ethnic groups through stress or worsening mental health.

Read the report in full via the Race Equality Foundation website here.

PIF member calls for 'end to lung health lottery'

PIF member Asthma + Lung UK has published a regional analysis of lung health.

The analysis highlights that many areas where people experience poor lung health are also areas with higher levels of deprivation. 

For example, people in Blackpool experience death rates from lung conditions over 2 times higher than more affluent areas such as the London Borough of Richmond. 

Asthma + Lung UK is calling on the Government to increase funding for research and innovation into lung conditions that could save and transform millions of lives.

Read more and access the full regional data via the Asthma + Lung UK website here.

Study: Digital health barriers and facilitators among culturally and linguistically-diverse populations

A new systematic review aims to determine the barriers to, and facilitators of, interacting with digital health technologies from the perspectives of culturally and linguistically-diverse populations.

The review identified 7 overarching analytical themes: using technology, design components, language, culture, health and medical, trustworthiness, and interaction with others.

It found cultural factors affected all themes to some degree.

Researchers recommended diverse cultural and linguistic perspectives be considered in the design and delivery of all digital health technologies.

The most effective way to do this is include the target communities at all stages of development.

Read the study findings in full via the JMIR website here.

Earning the public’s trust on health data 

In this Digital Health article, Professor Ben Goldacre, director of the Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science, discusses how to build public trust in health data.

He says the scale of the challenge was illustrated by the General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) scheme. 

Promises that data would be anonymised were not enough to reassure the public, resulting in a loss of trust and loss of data as people opted out.

Prof Goldacre outlines the potential of of trusted research environments (TREs), which keep all patient data on a central machine.

Read the full article via the Digital Health website here.

Increasing diversity in research participation   

NHS England has published a guide providing practical tips to increase diversity in research participation. 

The guide is accompanied by a blog, written by subject expert Dr Natalie Darko, on why diverse participation in research is so important to delivering high-quality, evidence-based healthcare.

Access the full guide via the NHS England website here.

Science and the ethics of 'curing' misinformation

In this article, the authors argue attempts to 'cure' misinformation not only leave the scientific community vulnerable to long-term reputational damage but also raise significant ethical questions. 

They suggest strategies for communicating health information equitably, effectively, and ethically to audiences without undermining agency.

Read the full article via the AMA Journal of Ethics website here.

Accessible health information 'essential' in tackling health inequalities for deaf people

In this blog for National Voices, Zohra Khan, campaigns manager at SignHealth, highlights the importance of doing more to achieve health equity for deaf people.

She says we need a 'BSL-first approach' with consistent access to information in BSL and interpreters across the country.

Read the full blog via the National Voices website here.

Survey: Experiences of co-production

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has launched a survey for adult social care professionals and people who draw on services.

The survey aims to find out more about people's understanding and experiences of co-production. 

It should take 10 minutes to complete and closes on 4 April.

Take part in the survey via the pointerpro platform here.

Video: The digital information ecosystem and trust

A recent World Health Organization (WHO) webinar focused on issues around infodemics, misinformation and dis-information, and how trust can be built and maintained in the current digital information ecosystem.

The webinar was the latest in a series on trust and pandemic preparedness.

Catch up via the WHO EPI-WIN YouTube channel here.

Survey: Mental health crisis care for children and young people

Researchers are conducting work to describe and map NHS, local authority, youth justice, education and third-sector approaches to children and young people’s crisis care across England and Wales.

The NIHR-funded project has now launched a survey to identify these services.

The purpose of the mapping exercise is to establish current provision and to develop a sampling frame to identify possible case study sites for the fieldwork stage of the CAMH-Crisis2 study.

Take part in the survey via the Cardiff University website here.