Focusing on determinants and distribution of health information and misinformation on the internet, and its effect on public and individual health.
Editor-in-Chief: Tim Ken Mackey, MAS, PhD, Professor, University of California San Diego; Director, Healthcare Research & Policy, University of California San Diego - Extension; Director, Global Health Policy and Data Institute
Tim Ken Mackey, MAS, PhD, Professor, University of California San Diego; Director, Healthcare Research & Policy, University of California San Diego - Extension; Director, Global Health Policy and Data Institute
JMIR Infodemiology (JI, ISSN 2564-1891, Editor-in-Chief: Tim Ken Mackey) launched in 2021 (recently passed Scientific Evaluation for PubMed Central/PubMed) is a Scopus, DOAJ, CABI-indexed, peer reviewed journal, focusing on determinants and the distribution of health information and misinformation on the internet, and its effect on public and individual health. The new scientific discipline of "Infodemiology," first introduced in 2002, has been gaining momentum due to the COVID-19 infodemic, with the WHO recognizing it as an important pillar to manage public health emergencies. JMIR Publications is proud to have been spearheading the advancement of this new scientific discipline for more than a decade. We are now accelerating the development of this new interdisciplinary discipline with the first and only journal devoted to this rapidly evolving field, by bringing together thought leaders in research and policy. Areas of interest include information monitoring (infoveillance, including social listening); ehealth literacy and science literacy; knowledge refinement and quality improvement processes and policies; and the influence of political and commercial interests on effective knowledge translation.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective method for treating opioid use disorder (OUD), which combines behavioral therapies with one of three Food and Drug Administration–approved medications: methadone, buprenorphine, and naloxone. While MAT has been shown to be effective initially, there is a need for more information from the patient perspective about the satisfaction with medications. Existing research focuses on patient satisfaction with the entirety of the treatment, making it difficult to determine the unique role of medication and overlooking the views of those who may lack access to treatment due to being uninsured or concerns over stigma. Studies focusing on patients’ perspectives are also limited by the lack of scales that can efficiently collect self-reports across domains of concerns.
South Asians, inclusive of individuals originating in India, Pakistan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and Nepal, comprise the largest diaspora in the world, with large South Asian communities residing in the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and elsewhere. There is evidence that South Asian communities have disproportionately experienced COVID-19 infections and mortality. WhatsApp, a free messaging app, is widely used in transnational communication within the South Asian diaspora. Limited studies exist on COVID-19–related misinformation specific to the South Asian community on WhatsApp. Understanding communication on WhatsApp may improve public health messaging to address COVID-19 disparities among South Asian communities worldwide.
Public health agencies widely adopt social media for health and risk communication. Moreover, different platforms have different affordances, which may impact the quality and nature of the messaging and how the public engages with the content. However, these platform effects are not often compared in studies of health and risk communication and not previously for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the politicization of public health issues. A public health monitoring tool must be equipped to reveal a public health measure’s political context and guide better interventions. In its current form, infoveillance tends to neglect identity and interest-based users, hence being limited in exposing how public health discourse varies by different political groups. Adopting an algorithmic tool to classify users and their short social media texts might remedy that limitation.
Unlike past pandemics, COVID-19 is different to the extent that there is an unprecedented surge in both peer-reviewed and preprint research publications, and important scientific conversations about it are rampant on online social networks, even among laypeople. Clearly, this new phenomenon of scientific discourse is not well understood in that we do not know the diffusion patterns of peer-reviewed publications vis-à-vis preprints and what makes them viral.
Few studies have systematically analyzed information regarding chronic medical conditions and available treatments on social media. Celiac disease (CD) is an exemplar of the need to investigate web-based educational sources. CD is an autoimmune condition wherein the ingestion of gluten causes intestinal damage and, if left untreated by a strict gluten-free diet (GFD), can result in significant nutritional deficiencies leading to cancer, bone disease, and death. Adherence to the GFD can be difficult owing to cost and negative stigma, including misinformation about what gluten is and who should avoid it. Given the significant impact that negative stigma and common misunderstandings have on the treatment of CD, this condition was chosen to systematically investigate the scope and nature of sources and information distributed through social media.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, tribal and health organizations used social media to rapidly disseminate public health guidance highlighting protective behaviors such as masking and vaccination to mitigate the pandemic’s disproportionate burden on American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities.
Long COVID—a condition with persistent symptoms post COVID-19 infection—is the first illness arising from social media. In France, the French hashtag #ApresJ20 described symptoms persisting longer than 20 days after contracting COVID-19. Faced with a lack of recognition from medical and official entities, patients formed communities on social media and described their symptoms as long-lasting, fluctuating, and multisystemic. While many studies on long COVID relied on traditional research methods with lengthy processes, social media offers a foundation for large-scale studies with a fast-flowing outburst of data.
COVID-19–related health inequalities were reported in some studies, showing the failure in public health and communication. Studies investigating the contexts and causes of these inequalities pointed to the contribution of communication inequality or poor health literacy and information access to engagement with health care services. However, no study exclusively dealt with health inequalities induced by the use of social media during COVID-19.
Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, a worldwide infodemic also emerged with large amounts of COVID-19–related information and misinformation spreading through social media channels. Various organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other prominent individuals issued high-profile advice on preventing the further spread of COVID-19.
Preprints Open for Peer-Review
There are no preprints available for open peer-review at this time. Please check back later.