Tag Archives: medical hoaxes

Should Critical Care Professionals Take Hoaxes/Rumours Seriously?

DOI: 10.1515/jccm-2016-0030

To the Editor of JCCM,
Thanks to the ever larger penetration of the Internet and especially with the advent of Web 2.0 and social media, hoaxes, rumours and urban legends have become an almost everyday occurrence. While social psychology research contends that rumors can negatively impact on the public by generating distress, intense fear, anxiety, possibly resulting in herd behaviour and violence [1], there is evidence that disease-related rumours may alter health-related behaviors and interfere with medical decision-making [2]. Medical misinformation is most frequently associated with collective emergency situations (e.g., Ebola infected patients refused to be hospitalized because of rumours that international health care workers intentionally brought the virus with them [3]; people from around Kenema, Sierra Leone attacked the hospital after hearing rumours of conspiracy [4]; during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, rumours that ingestion of iodized salt could prevent radiation damage lead to a shortage of the product in supermarkets and triggered panic and public unrest [1]) and miracle products or cures that can be commercially exploited [5]. However, there are a number of hoaxes/rumours that probably critical care specialists should neither take lightly as innocuous amusements, nor brush aside with a condescending smile.[More]

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