Looking back | ACHC symposium: health literacy and misinformation

Published on December 18, 2021 – On November 11, we organized the third ACHC symposium of 2021 together with partner Alliance Health Skills (Alliantie Gezondheidsvaardigheden), which also served as the network meeting this alliance. The theme was “Health literacy and misinformation”. The meeting was completely online. Read a short report here and watch the plenary parts again.

We organized our online meeting at the University of Amsterdam, from which the Amsterdam Center for Health Communication (ACHC) operates. Julia van Weert, director of ACHC and Coryke ​​van Vulpen, coordinator of the Health Skills Alliance, opened the network meeting.

Plenary opening
Health literacy is about being able to find, understand and apply information about healthcare and prevention. And about being able to estimate the value of this information. Or misinformation. Misinformation is information that is unintentionally incorrect.

An example: your ear is bothering you, and you are looking for information about what to do now. You may come across outdated information on the internet. You may find subjective information or information that does not apply to your situation on a forum or in your circle of friends. These are all forms of misinformation.

About the speakers:
Mirjam Fransen, researcher Amsterdam UMC, explains what health skills are. Download her presentation.

Judith Möller, senior lecturer in political communication at the UvA, explains the difference between disinformation and misinformation.

Corine Meppelink, researcher health communication at the Uva, explains the link between health literacy and misinformation.

Network sessions
During the networking sessions there was the opportunity to further discuss various topics. Because networking was central here, no recordings were made. Below you can read briefly which sessions were held and what information is available about this.

1: Inclusive Covid prevention. Challenges of people with limited health literacy regarding information and measures in the context of COVID-19
By: Jany Rademakers, Nivel/Maastricht University and Monique Heijmans, Nivel
For: healthcare professionals, communication staff, researchers
Read the report here.

2: Why is attention for patients’ basic skills important in the case of misinformation on the Internet?
By: Ellen Pattenier and Joost Huiskens, Reading and Writing Foundation
For: healthcare professionals, library staff, providers of (language) education
Read more about current teaching materials and learn more about simple language usage.
Download the presentation here.

3: Prevent misinformation and test your materials.
By: Drs. Natascha Huijser van Reenen, Pharos
For: Health information creators
Read more about testing your materials.

Use the Methodology ‘Understandable medical information in words and images‘, chapter 7 discusses testing.

4: What can you as a healthcare provider do to provide customized information?
By: Diandra de Jong, Trusted Source Foundation
For: healthcare providers

5: The myth trap: the vulnerable and consequences
By: Judith Möller and Corine Meppelink, UvA researchers
For: communication staff, researchers, healthcare professionals

6: How do you involve everyone in research?
By: Mirjam Fransen, researcher Amsterdam UMC
For: researchers

Keynote: Torn between science and misinformation: how to support people with low health literacy navigating through the ‘infodemic’

Nicola Diviani, PhD, delivered our keynote from Switzerland. He is a Senior Research Associate at Swiss Paraplegic Research and a Lecturer at the University of Lucerne, Lucerne, Switzerland.

Dr. Nicola Diviani explained in his lecture on the ‘infodemic’ that unfortunately, misinformation spreads more easily and has more persuasive power for some people than, for example, scientific research. In his story he reflects on the various causes of this. Moreover, he indicates that it is extra difficult for people with limited health skills to assess the reliability of information that they encounter. Fortunately, we can also learn from what makes misinformation so successful and use it to better spread correct information. Dr. Diviana concluded his story with some suggestions for doing so. Providing an understandable message is one of them, just like communicating on a timely and regular basis, forming your own ‘channel’ and making sure to build a community, in which you sometimes also share something personal. He also offered various solutions to make people more resilient to misinformation.

Closing discussions
Finally, the participants were given the opportunity to discuss a topic of their choice in small groups.