Irish researchers address coronavirus myths on brilliant new website
The Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in NUI Galway, will help the public quickly and easily check the reliability of health claims being circulated by social media.
The new website, www.iHealthFacts.ie, is funded by the Health Research Board in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also brought with it an infodemic of misinformation and disinformation. The pandemic has meant the general public are faced with a constant stream of false information through a range of sources including social media and personal communication, for example messaging groups.
Members of the public can submit any health claims they are curious about to the iHealthFacts website. A team of researchers in NUI Galway have established a process for assessing prioritised health claims by searching for evidence to support or refute the claim. The prepared responses are also reviewed by a team of Evidence Advisors from NUI Galway, UCD, TCD, UL, UCC and RCSI and by a panel of Public and Patient Advisors (PPI Ignite, NUI Galway).
The result is a short, easy to read, clearly presented response to help the public make informed decisions about their own health. iHealthFacts is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and is intended for information purposes only. The website will be updated regularly in response to the submitted and prioritised claims so members of the public can quickly and easily check the reliability of a health claim circulated by social media. The researchers hope this information will help people think critically about health claims and make well-informed choices.
Elaine Finucane, iHealthFacts.ie lead and Research Associate in the Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network, said: “Unreliable claims can lead to poorly informed choices, under- or over-use of things we do to improve or maintain health. Unreliable claims can also lead to unnecessary waste and human suffering. iHealthFacts.ie offers a platform to help tease out the reliability of health claims. We hope it also helps the public think critically about health claims.”
Dr Tom Conway, iHealthFacts.ie co-lead and Research Associate in the Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network and HRB Clinical Research Facility Galway, said: “Now more than ever people need access to open, trustworthy, information and iHealthFacts offers the public a simple way to take control and fact check health claims.”
Dr Sandra Galvin, HRB-TMRN Programme Manager at NUI Galway, said: “Our team of researchers have already collected and addressed a number of claims which can be viewed on iHealthFacts.ie. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic. These include: Can spraying alcohol or chlorine on your body prevent you becoming infected with the new coronavirus? Does taking ibuprofen worsen the symptoms of COVID-19? Does the use of petrol pumps spread COVID-19 rapidly? iHealthFacts.ie is easy to use, and we welcome the public’s help in submitting health claims to be prioritised for review.”
To learn more visit www.iHealthFacts.ie, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @iHealthFacts1, Facebook, Instagram.