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1. Discuss how the Internet and social media has changed the practice of politics and policy issues in healthcare. Give specific examples from current events and issues.
2. What danger does media bias present to our health care system?
Discussion 1: (Angelica)
1. The internet and social media have had an enormous impact on the practice of politics and policy issues in healthcare. As relayed by Milstead (2022), social media comprises a critical exchange of political mobilization and socialization. It effectively influences political actions and attitude of individuals. Social media platforms including, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, are widely used throughout the world. Therefore, social media can be a valuable tool for disseminating and consuming information, promoting public awareness, and influencing policymaking about health (Charalambous, 2019). Political leaders and celebrities can publicize information quickly through such platforms which encourages transparency, communication, and engagement with the public. Information released on the internet is not fact-checked, which can cause detrimental effects in society.
While social media and the internet can allow the public quick access to information, it can also cause harm. For example, during the COVID 19 epidemic, social media platforms were rampant with information regarding the virus, the death toll, and the ways by which healthcare providers were caring for patients. While some of the information was factual, some of it was not and there was no true way to decipher between fact and fiction. This caused unrest amongst the public and a distrust in our healthcare systems.
Another example of how social media has changed policy issues in healthcare can be seen in a recent study published by Hughes (2023). The study explained how artificial intelligence was used to analyze Statin misinformation on Reddit. The results showed several false accusations including linking statins to COVID-19 outcomes. Here, it is apparent that online forums can be a dangerous place. People tend to be more honest on online forums than they would be sitting face-to-face with a practitioner. Therefore, they would be more likely to ask questions and have honest discussions about their health beliefs on these forums (Hughes, 2023). Understanding what is being discussed on social media is important as a clinician. If we can acknowledge that people are more inclined to turn to social media and the internet to guide their healthcare, then we can better treat our patients.
2. According to Milstead (2022), beliefs are thoughts or statements that individuals hold to be true regardless of whether they can be seen, felt, or proven. Bias develops from these opinions, values, and beliefs. Specifically, media bias can stretch the truth to the point that it becomes a lie (Milstead, 2022). Stories can be changed to influence, deceive, or misinform the audience. As relayed by Milstead (2022), two opposing political candidates trying to convince the public to vote for them can provide the public with false information just to obtain votes. A fact checker can verify the information. Nonetheless, once the information has reached the public, it is hard to take it back, even if false. Therefore, media bias can have detrimental effects to our health care system and community.
For instance, there was a study released by Dr. Andrew Wakefield claiming to have found a link between the MMR vaccine and autism (Rao & Andrade, 2011). Epidemiologic studies were performed and published, which negated the link between MMR and autism. Despite scientific evidence disputing this study and the further retraction of the study, MMR vaccination rates began to drop as parents were concerned about the risk of autism associated with the vaccine. The information was relayed in such a way to make the public believe it was true. Dr. Wakefield ended up losing his license because of all the unrest he had caused. If the public believes false medical information, there will be higher incidences of illness and death.
Discussion 2: (Samantha)
1. The use of the Internet and social media in the past decades have created some positive and negative influences on the practice of politics and policy issues in health care. The internet and social media can be used as a great tool to spread awareness to a specific disease or health care issue. Fortunately, and unfortunately, both the internet and social media are places where anyone and everyone has an opinion and shares those opinions even if they are not based on facts. An example of this is the information that was continuously shared about the COVID-19 Pandemic. In the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the internet was a source of information that shared signs and symptoms, places where the spread of the disease was high, and areas to get tested. A study based in Jordan proved a statistically significant correlation between people who received information regarding health safety and the spread of COVID-19 and changes in health behaviors, (Al-Dmour et al, 2020). As time went on, social media was an area where many shared opinions on government policies regarding staying inside, vaccinations, and beliefs on where the COVID-19 Pandemic initiated. This created an environment of media bias. Media bias is when information is skewed about a news event or a careful selection of events to be reported in a sense to conform to a particular belief, (Short, 2022). With the use of the internet and social media, the public had more information about the health care system than ever before and interestingly had more respect for healthcare workers but also more criticism of health care choices than ever before.
2. As previously stated, media bias is when information is skewed about a news event or a careful selection of events to be reported in a sense to conform to a particular belief, (Short, 2022). The dangers that media bias presents to our health care system is the power it can have over the public’s opinion and what they are willing to comply with. According to a study conducted over the course of the first 3 months of the pandemic from March 2020 to June 2020 people that watched and trusted certain new outlets complied with different levels of safety and protection against COVID-19, (Zhao et al., 2020). “Results showed that compared with those who trust CNN more than Fox News, people who trust Fox News more than CNN engaged in fewer preventative behaviors and more risky behaviors related to COVID-19,” (Zhao et al., 2020).
Expert Solution Preview
The Internet and social media have significantly transformed various aspects of society, including the practice of politics and policy issues in healthcare. These platforms have become powerful tools for disseminating information, promoting public awareness, and influencing policy decisions. However, they also present challenges, such as the spread of misinformation, media bias, and the potential impact on public opinion and healthcare behaviors. In this response, we will discuss the effects of the Internet and social media on politics and policy issues in healthcare, providing specific examples from current events and discussing the dangers of media bias in the healthcare system.
Answer to question 1:
The Internet and social media have had a profound impact on the practice of politics and policy issues in healthcare. These platforms have provided individuals with a means to access and share information rapidly, influencing political actions and shaping public opinion. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, social media platforms were essential in disseminating information about the virus, its symptoms, prevention measures, and healthcare providers’ efforts. However, the unfiltered nature of information on the internet can lead to the spread of misinformation, causing confusion and distrust in healthcare systems. One specific example is the false claims about COVID-19 treatments or cures that circulated on social media platforms, leading some individuals to take ineffective or potentially harmful actions.
Another way social media has influenced policy issues in healthcare is through the amplification of health-related discussions and public input. For instance, social media platforms have provided a platform for individuals to share their healthcare experiences, raise concerns, and advocate for policy changes. This has increased public engagement in healthcare decision-making processes, allowing policymakers to better understand community needs and concerns. However, it is essential to recognize that not all discussions on social media platforms are accurate or evidence-based. False and misleading information can easily spread, hindering the development of effective policies or interventions.
Furthermore, social media platforms have also amplified the voices of healthcare professionals, researchers, and policymakers, allowing them to engage with the public directly. This direct interaction can help build trust, improve transparency in healthcare, and mobilize public support for policy changes. However, it is vital to manage these interactions carefully, ensuring accurate and evidence-based information is shared while addressing any misconceptions or misinformation that may arise.
Answer to question 2:
Media bias presents a significant danger to our healthcare system. Media bias refers to the selective presentation or distortion of information to conform to a particular belief or agenda. In the context of healthcare, media bias can distort public understanding and perception of health issues, medical treatments, and healthcare policies. This distortion of information can have far-reaching consequences, impacting healthcare decision-making and patient outcomes.
One of the dangers of media bias is the potential for the dissemination of false or misleading information. When media outlets prioritize sensationalism or conform to a particular narrative, accurate and evidence-based information may be overshadowed or distorted. This can lead to widespread misconceptions or fears regarding certain health conditions, treatments, or public health measures. An example of this is the MMR vaccine controversy, where media coverage amplified unfounded claims linking the vaccine to autism, leading to a decrease in vaccination rates and subsequent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
Media bias can also erode trust in healthcare institutions, healthcare professionals, and public health authorities. When individuals perceive that media outlets have ulterior motives or are presenting information in a biased manner, they may question the credibility of healthcare recommendations, policies, or research findings. This erosion of trust can hinder public health efforts, reduce vaccine uptake, and compromise adherence to evidence-based healthcare practices.
Moreover, media bias can contribute to the polarization of healthcare debates and policy discussions. Biased reporting or framing of healthcare issues can create divisions and hinder constructive dialogue among policymakers and stakeholders. This polarization can impede the development of effective healthcare policies and interventions that address the needs and concerns of diverse populations.
In conclusion, while the Internet and social media have revolutionized the practice of politics and policy issues in healthcare, they also pose significant challenges. The spread of misinformation, the potential for media bias, and the impact on public opinion and healthcare behaviors call for careful monitoring and critical evaluation of online information. As medical professionals and educators, it is crucial to educate and empower individuals to navigate online platforms critically, seek out reliable sources, and critically evaluate the information they encounter. Additionally, efforts to counteract media bias, promote evidence-based reporting, and engage in transparent and accurate communication are essential to maintaining public trust in healthcare systems.