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) is a new journal (launched in 2021) focusing on determinants and distribution of health information and misinformation on the internet, and its effect on public and individual health; a new scientific discipline that has has been called "Infodemiology" in 2002, and which has been gaining momentum in the COVID-19 related infodemic in 2020, with WHO recognizing this 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 the past decade or more, and is 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.
Discussions of health issues on social media are a crucial information source reflecting real-world responses regarding events and opinions. They are often important in public health care, since these are influencing pathways that affect vaccination decision-making by hesitant individuals. Artificial intelligence methodologies based on internet search engine queries have been suggested to detect disease outbreaks and population behavior. Among social media, Twitter is a common platform of choice to search and share opinions and (mis)information about health care issues, including vaccination and vaccines.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been widely described as an infodemic, an excess of rapidly circulating information in social and traditional media in which some information may be erroneous, contradictory, or inaccurate. One key theme cutting across many infodemic analyses is that it stymies users’ capacities to identify appropriate information and guidelines, encourages them to take inappropriate or even harmful actions, and should be managed through multiple transdisciplinary approaches. Yet, investigations demonstrating how the COVID-19 information ecosystem influences complex public decision making and behavior offline are relatively few.
An infodemic is an overflow of information of varying quality that surges across digital and physical environments during an acute public health event. It leads to confusion, risk-taking, and behaviors that can harm health and lead to erosion of trust in health authorities and public health responses. Owing to the global scale and high stakes of the health emergency, responding to the infodemic related to the pandemic is particularly urgent. Building on diverse research disciplines and expanding the discipline of infodemiology, more evidence-based interventions are needed to design infodemic management interventions and tools and implement them by health emergency responders.
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, developing safe and effective coronavirus vaccines was considered critical to arresting the spread of the disease. News and social media discussions have extensively covered the issue of coronavirus vaccines, with a mixture of vaccine advocacies, concerns, and oppositions.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) has the third highest cancer mortality rate in the United States. Enhanced screening has reduced mortality rates; however, certain populations remain at high risk, notably African Americans. Raising awareness among at-risk populations may lead to improved CRC outcomes. The influence of celebrity death and illness is an important driver of public awareness. As such, the death of actor Chadwick Boseman from CRC may have influenced CRC awareness.
The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has brought vaccine hesitancy to the forefront in managing this pandemic. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is fundamentally different from that of other vaccines due to the new technologies being used, rapid development, and widespread global distribution. Attitudes on vaccines are largely driven by online information, particularly information on social media. The first step toward influencing attitudes about immunization is understanding the current patterns of communication that characterize the immunization debate on social media platforms.
COVID-19 has caused the worst international crisis since World War II. Italy was one of the countries most affected by both the pandemic and the related infodemic. The success of anti–COVID-19 strategies and future public health policies in Italy cannot separate itself from the containment of fake news and the divulgation of correct information.
The emergency authorization of COVID-19 vaccines has offered the first means of long-term protection against COVID-19–related illness since the pandemic began. It is important for health care professionals to understand commonly held COVID-19 vaccine concerns and to be equipped with quality information that can be used to assist in medical decision-making.
As of May 9, 2021, the United States had 32.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 (20.7% of confirmed cases worldwide) and 580,000 deaths (17.7% of deaths worldwide). Early on in the pandemic, widespread social, financial, and mental insecurities led to extreme and irrational coping behaviors, such as panic buying. However, despite the consistent spread of COVID-19 transmission, the public began to violate public safety measures as the pandemic got worse.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by an infodemic: excess information, including false or misleading information, in digital and physical environments during an acute public health event. This infodemic is leading to confusion and risk-taking behaviors that can be harmful to health, as well as to mistrust in health authorities and public health responses. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working to develop tools to provide an evidence-based response to the infodemic, enabling prioritization of health response activities.