Physicians Using Social Media to Spread Accurate Medical News

APRIL 13, 2020
Heidi Moawad, MD
Social media is among the leading sources of health news throughout the world. Doctors are becoming more involved in disseminating health information by posting on personal and professional social media accounts. More than ever before, people look to social media to find the answers to their serious health concerns, including the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and issues such as how to avoid food borne contamination, at-home treatments for medical ailments, or medication safety. 

Doctors can play a crucial role in fostering a healthy society by providing and sharing fact-based content on social media to help alleviate panic and to encourage healthy responses to medical threats. There are a number of ways that physicians can employ the power of social media to promote accurate information. 


Sharing useful facts  

Simply sharing links that provide brief and helpful information can help put your social media connections at ease. There are so many sources of medical information online and in the news, and many of them include inaccuracies. You may notice that some of the inaccuracies are just the result of misunderstandings or oversimplifications, and you may even come across some that are deliberately misleading.

But there is also plenty of content that you will find to be factually correct and valuable. When you come across a trustworthy source, sharing it on your own social media accounts can go a long way in validating it and benefitting your own social network. 


Adding a brief commentary to shared posts

There are so many great articles with accurate medical facts that are just too long for busy people to read. Most people only look at health in terms of the main takeaway points and how it affects their own lives. This is especially true when people are inundated with too much material.

When you want to share a long article, it can help to post a brief summary by including just one or two sentences of value that you would like your social network to benefit from. You could consider using your own words to summarize the take away points in a way that would resonate with your network.

Busy parents taking care of kids who are home from school or people who have a full day of work or other responsibilities will appreciate your high yield facts. And those who have time or interest in diving deeper into the topic might want to read the whole article when it’s convenient for them. 


Directly debunking fake news

One of the most stressful aspects of health news on social media is fake medical news. Physicians come across all types of harmful content, including miracle cures, conspiracy theories, and an irrational distrust of medical interventions.

When you are worried about the potential impact of harmful medical content, your succinct and understandable counter to the false information can help prevent some people in your network from trying useless cures or missing out on beneficial treatments—and your comments may even save lives.


Social media will continue to change

While social media plays a major role in how people stumble on and seek out health information, the way social media channels are used likely to continue to evolve in years to come. The strategies you use now will likely be outdated a few years from now. But your overall aim—which is promoting the safest information to your social media network—is unlikely to change.

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