In October, Daisy Winner, Program Manager at the Information Futures Lab, presented at the CDC’s Health Literacy Month internal event, Barriers to Clear Communication: Misinformation & Numbers. Hosted by the Division of Communication Science and Services, more than 200 CDC staff attended the virtual presentation including health communicators, behavioral scientists, policy analysts, clerical staff, interns, budget officers, and epidemiologists. The CDC and its staff play a central role combatting health misinformation as they are essential to the public’s access to accurate, reliable and accessible information they can use to protect and promote their health.
Winner’s presentation defined misinformation using examples of the numerous forms it can take online. Misinformation is often presented in ways that are more compelling and accessible than authoritative information, leveraging both psychological and social processes and the design of social media platforms, Winner explained.
Winner shared evidence-based strategies for addressing health misinformation, including leading with empathy – actively inquiring into beliefs and their origins, and acknowledging legitimate concerns. To counter misinformation, health advocates can use strategies including “prebunking” – preemptively debunking false information – as well as equipping people with strategies to identify misinformation themselves.