AMA adopts public health misinformation policy

Leaders of the Chicago-based American Medical Association (AMA) have an official policy supporting the association’s fight against health misinformation that has spread through the public and media spaces in recent months, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 13, Assembly Posted a press release on its website To announce the adoption of this policy by delegates to the annual meeting of the Council of Delegates. It started like this: “With the spread of misinformation continuing to negatively impact efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and sow distrust in vaccines, public health mitigation efforts, and American health institutions, the American Medical Association (AMA) today adopted policy during its annual meeting Its Board of Delegates to Address Health-Related Misinformation Disseminated by Health Professionals.As part of a report developed by the AMA Board of Trustees, the new policy provides a comprehensive strategy aimed at stopping the spread of misinformation and protecting the health of the public, including actions that can be taken by the AMA, social media companies, publishers, and public health authorities. state licensing, accreditation boards, state and specialized health professional associations, and by those who accredit continuing education.”

Furthermore, the press release noted, “The report demonstrates how misinformation claims made by health professionals can be directly linked to topics such as the promotion of unproven COVID-19 treatments, false claims about vaccine side effects, and public health guidance that is not evidence-based. While misinformation by health professionals has become widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report cites a Center for Combating Digital Hate study that found nearly two-thirds of anti-vaccine social media posts — or more than 812,000 individual posts — can be traced back to just two Ten individuals, they are called the “Disinformation Dozen.” Because financial gain can often be a cause for dissemination of disinformation, the report notes the need to address both a person’s ability to find an audience to deceive and their ability to financially benefit from that audience.”

The press release quotes AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, as saying that “Physicians are a reliable source of information for patients and the public alike, but the spread of misinformation by a few has implications for the entire profession and causes harm. Physicians have an ethical and professional responsibility to share true information, correct misinformation and inaccurate information, and direct people to reliable sources of health information.“The AMA is committed to confronting disinformation, and we need to address the root of the problem,” said Dr. Harmon. “We must make sure that health professionals who spread misinformation are unable to use platforms that are far-reaching, and often financially beneficial, for spreading dangerous health claims. While it is unlikely that we will undo the damage caused by disinformation campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can act now to help prevent the spread of disinformation in the future.”

The press release went on to state that, “Expanding on the AMA’s existing efforts to address misinformation, the new policy calls for the AMA to work with health professional associations and other relevant organizations to implement a comprehensive strategy that includes the following priorities:

• Maintaining the AMA as a reliable source of evidence-based information for clinicians and patients,

• Ensure accessibility of evidence-based medical and public health information by engaging with publishers, research institutions, and media organizations to develop best practices around paywalls and pre-printing to improve access to evidence-based information and analytics,

• address misleading information disseminated by health professionals via social media platforms and address monetization from dissemination of misinformation on social media platforms,

• Educating health professionals and the public on how to recognize misinformation and how it spreads,

• Considering the role of health professional associations in serving as appropriate entities to validate health-related information disseminated by various media platforms,

• Encourage continuing education to be available to health professionals who act as fact-checkers to help prevent the dissemination of health-related misinformation,

• Ensure that licensing boards have the authority to take disciplinary action against health professionals for spreading misleading health-related information, and confirm that all speech in which a health professional uses his or her credentials is professional conduct and can be examined by its licensing entity,

• Ensure that specialized boards have the authority to take action against board accreditation of health professionals who spread misleading health-related information, and

• Encourage states and local medical communities to engage in dispelling misinformation in their jurisdictions. “

The press release added: “The new report provides an overview of the ways in which misinformation is being disseminated by health professionals, particularly through social media platforms. While the report notes that misinformation existed long before the spread of the Internet and social media Social media platforms have acted as a multiplier for the spread of misinformation – particularly what has led to the spread of misinformation about COVID-19. The report concludes that combating misinformation disseminated by health professionals, particularly via social media, will require a three-dimensional approach: Removing misinformation from priority in social media algorithms, emphasizing and enabling the role of interactive fact-checking, and addressing any underlying motivational structure for health. Professionals spreading health-related misinformation.”

Indeed, as part of its efforts in this area, the press release noted, “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMA has led numerous efforts to promote confidence in the vaccine, advocate for science, and counter disinformation and misinformation, including urging the CEOs of six leading companies Social media and e-commerce to stay vigil against the spread of purposeful misinformation and unintended disinformation on its platforms.Since the beginning of the pandemic, the AMA has provided clinicians with up-to-date information on COVID-19 news, research, vaccines, and treatments through the COVID-19 Online Resource Center.The AMA will continue to benefit from Its communication channels and network to provide clinicians with the most relevant and fact-based information and resources to share with their patients and to continue to support policies to combat the further spread of misinformation and health information.”