World Evidence-Based Healthcare (EBHC) Day

The Role of Evidence in an Infodemic

World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day is observed on 20 October each year. The observation aims at raising awareness of the need for better evidence-based healthcare policy, practice, and decision making to improve outcomes. It is a campaign to reflect and share experiences of using evidence to generate impact in healthcare globally. The Infodemic is making it hard for people to find evidence-based, trustworthy guidance when they need it.  While battling to tackle the COVID pandemic, health care workers, medical professionals, government officials, and policymakers must find ways to address the Infodemic relating to the COVID pandemic. Fostering meaningful partnerships, communicating evidence to the stakeholders, making available, reliable information, and enabling meaningful dialogue and engagement is the way to tackle the Infodemic. There is an urgent need to establish new partnerships amongst academia-media, experts amongst all forms of treatment methodologies (allopathy, AYUSH, and traditional healing), and enhance literacy. Fund the projects and programs in achieving the same and create platforms for improved monitoring and surveillance. Educating, being bold and highlighting and celebrating the successes is the way forward. While the governments, the policymakers, health care workers and professionals, researchers, information science professionals have a role to play in tackling the Infodemic, as individuals, all of us have an essential role. Both in not creating information without evidence and, more importantly, not being part of the link in the spreading the news. After all, the crucial players in the Infodemic are the public who consumes and contribute to spreading the information. Ensuring being responsible would go a long way in breaking the waves of Infodemic.

This year’s world EBHC day will be a timely opportunity for the evidence community to come together and explore our role in responding to the current Infodemic, as well as to consider how we can prepare for future Infodemics.

Dr Karla Soares-Weiser
Editor in Chief, Cochrane Library.

Launched in 2020, World Evidence-Based Healthcare Day is observed on 20 October each year. The observation aims at raising awareness of the need for better evidence-based healthcare policy, practice, and decision making to improve outcomes.  It is a campaign to reflect and share experiences of using evidence to generate impact in healthcare globally. We all have a role in ensuring the use of trustworthy evidence in informed decision making. Learn from each other’s collective wisdom and relate to evidence and impact. It is an opportunity to introspect on the global trends and challenges. It is also an occasion to celebrate the impact of individuals and organisations and recognise the work of health care workers, researchers, policymakers in improving health outcomes.

Infodemic: Too much information, including false or misleading information in digital and physical environments during a disease outbreak.

WHO

Experts worldwide discuss how to tackle the Infodemic and emphasise that there is a need to ensure and promote access to trustworthy, evidence-informed health information. One of the ways of achieving the same is to share the experiences, expertise, and ways of managing the Infodemic. To perform the same, facilitate knowledge translation, fact-checking and building robust health literacy and social listening. Another challenging facet of the COVID-19 pandemic is the plethora of misinformation and disinformation and a lack of evidence-based and trustworthy guidance. The Infodemic is making it hard for people to find evidence-based, reliable advice when they need it. While battling to tackle the pandemic, health care workers, medical professionals, government officials, and policymakers must find ways to address the COVID pandemic related Infodemic. 

There is a  need to facilitate accurate knowledge translation during the pandemic. Fostering meaningful partnerships, communicating evidence to the stakeholders, making available, trustworthy information, enabling meaningful dialogue and engagement is the way forward to tackle the Infodemic. We need to involve all the stakeholders, patients, healthcare professionals, and the community as partners in fighting disinformation. Putting in place a mechanism to block the sources of misinformation on social media. No doubt it is a daunting task considering the Tsunami of information the world must deal with. The vaccine hesitancy seen in societies like ours reflects how misinformation can confuse people’s minds. Such hesitation is hindering protecting the people.

The prime challenge is building the evidence and ensuring the trustworthiness of the same.  There is an urgent need to establish new partnerships amongst academia-media, all forms of treatment methodologies (allopathy, AYUSH, and traditional healing), and enhance literacy. Funding the projects and programs in achieving the same and creating platforms for improved monitoring and surveillance.  

The Infodemic is not restricted to the COVID pandemic. The world has been struggling to tackle issues arising out of opioid dependence or other chronic health conditions. There is a need to remove the stigma and provide support and treatment. Raising awareness about the importance of high-quality evidence informing healthcare policy, practice, and decision-making impacts the health outcomes.  

Information scientists have a crucial role to play in tackling the Infodemic. One of the prime ways to tackle the Infodemic is to provide quality information. Several agencies mandated in providing platforms for publishing information are making efforts in ensuring relevant, pertinent, and peer-reviewed information is available. For example, focusing on the health care domain, DynaMed, PubMed, McMaster Health Knowledge Refinery, and The Lancet provide tools to search research articles and alert the most relevant and impactful studies. Users can create alerts to learn new articles meeting selected notification criteria, i.e., thresholds for relevance and newsworthiness, specific disciplines and populations, etc. 

It is not overemphasising to say that using information that is trustworthy and evidence-based advice improves the health outcomes for the patients. It is crucial for those struggling to recover from the pandemic and the health workers put their best efforts to alleviate the suffering of the infected patients and anxious family members. The WHO has put forward a public health research agenda that recognises Infodemic management, as an emerging and evolving field of research and practice. Transdisciplinary synthesis is required to develop the area.

Educating and being bold and highlighting and celebrating the successes is the way forward. While the Governments, the policymakers, health care workers and professionals, researchers, information science professionals have a role to play in tackling the Infodemic, as individuals, all of us have an essential role. Both in not creating information without evidence and, more importantly, not being part of the link in the spreading the news without verifying the authenticity. After all, the crucial players in the Infodemic are the public who consumes and contribute to spreading the information. Ensuring being responsible would go a long way in breaking the waves of Infodemic.

Toons: Reema  

Logs: Sai Baba

ToonLogs

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