Information Overload: Health

In today’s world of fast paced social media and communication, we all find it challenging to sift through the streams of health information that surround us to find the truth.  As nurses, this task is difficult, so imagine trying to make sense of it all from a public viewpoint…from our faith community’s viewpoint.

information overload licensed photo courtesy SparkCBC

information overload licensed photo courtesy SparkCBC

What information is reliable and trustworthy? 

This question was discussed yesterday (11/12/14) at “Information Overload,” hosted by Charlie Gibson at Quinnipiac University with guest panelists Dr. Timothy Johnson (ABC  News), Jocelyn Maminta (WTNH-TV), and Professor Stephen Wikel (Quinnipiac University).

Mr. Gibson noted that the number one topic the public wants from the media is health, with weather coming in second.  I’m sure we can all agree that the media has met this demand, especially with the recent advent of Ebola onto U.S. shores.  The media is abuzz with information about this subject, but how do we distinguish hype from truth?  This question pertains not only to Ebola, but also to any other health information found in the media.

“Is it all too much?” ~Charlie Gibson

Simply answered, Yes, it is too much.

The public needs direction to find reliable health information from a trusted source.  Who better to turn to than the number one trusted profession in our country? Nurses!

As faith community nurses, we are a trusted person within our community who can help people make sense of the chaotic media’s health information.  Granted, this information could help with raising public awareness to health problems, a first step to initiating behavior change for improved health.  But, the chaotic media becomes a problem when people make decisions about their health (and lives) based on faulty information.

One source of reliable health information online, recommended by Dr. Timothy Johnson, is the Kaiser Family Foundation website.  If you refer people to this site, let us know if it was helpful for them.  Do you think it meets the health literacy needs of the general public?

licensed photo courtesy  elizaIO

licensed photo courtesy elizaIO

So, what can we do about this as faith community nurses?

  • We can encourage questions about information people discover in the media and educate on correct information if needed when we provide personal health counseling.
  • We can provide reliable health information from “pamphlets and posters distributed by local hospitals, health departments, health-related organizations in the community” (Hickman, 2006, p.226), and governmental organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health.
  • We can empower the people in our faith community to find reliable health information online on their own.  The National Institute on Aging offers this FREE pamphlet (in Spanish & English) to distribute to your community.  You may want to simply have it on hand and provide it to people as needed.  You could make it available in a public display, such as a bulletin board, or have many in a brochure rack for people to take on their own.  Another idea would be to hold an educational discussion on this topic and hand out the pamphlets, so people have materials to refer to after leaving your program.

Be sure to visit the National Institute on Aging page, “Online Health Information: Can You Trust It?” Towards the bottom of the page they list several Federal and Non-Federal resources for information.  They also provide a list of reliable sources of information under “Places To Start”.  I have used the “Age Page” pamphlets in my congregation and can barely keep the brochure rack filled.

What reliable sources of information do you use with your faith community?

Licensed photo courtesy  AJ Cann

Licensed photo courtesy AJ Cann

Photo by Courtney Holmes 11/12/14

Photo by Courtney Holmes 11/12/14

Dr. Timothy Johnson, photo by Courtney Holmes 11/12/14 at Quinnipiac University

Dr. Timothy Johnson, photo by Courtney Holmes 11/12/14 at Quinnipiac University

Mr. Charlie Gibson, photo by Courtney Holmes 11/12/14 at Quinnipiac University

Mr. Charlie Gibson, photo by Courtney Holmes 11/12/14 at Quinnipiac University

View video of this discussion at Quinnipiac here, courtesy TVNewser.

About courtholmes

Nurse Practitioner, Faith Community Nurse, Parish Nurse, Certified Wound Specialist, DNP Student at Quinnipiac University, Social Media Enthusiast... Passionate about integrating faith and health! CT Faith Community Nurses on Twitter @CTFCN

Posted on November 13, 2014, in Program Ideas, Resources, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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