I recommend that they stick with well-respected university and health systems’ websites and newsletters and avoid believing sensational stories they see on social media. —Marilene Wang, MD
Explore This IssueOctober 2020
Physicians can, however, advise patients on how to find trustworthy information between visits. “I tell my patients that many respected medical institutions and hospitals have websites and newsletters written in easy-to-understand language for patients, with the latest information about various diseases,” said Dr. Wang. “Relevant research updates are also presented, with care to include peer-reviewed, evidence-based studies. These websites usually contain links to other resources, including the CDC, NIH, and NCI.”
Combatting misinformation requires a multidisciplinary approach that goes well beyond the clinical setting. The reality is that both doctors and patients are under pressure to make the most of their limited time together. “The hardest thing facing providers today is the short amount of time they have to communicate important messages to patients,” said Dr. Sykes. Consequently, patients are left with unanswered questions that they may not have the time or presence of mind to ask during their appointment. Meanwhile, providers need to prioritize the key bottom-line information they want to give to patients.
However, there is good news to report: “Our research has shown that patients definitely trust their providers, and they value information that comes directly from them,” said Dr. Sykes. Otolaryngologists can use this advantage to dispel any misconceptions patients have.
Linda Kossoff is a freelance medical writer based in Woodland Hills, Calif.