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10 May 2024

Medical Misinformation: Spot The Fake News

From viral videos and miracle treatments to the latest trends, the internet can be home to a whole host of medical misinformation and ‘fake news’.

Misinformation is information that is inaccurate, outdated, incomplete, false or misleading. Medical misinformation can cause potential harm or distress.

Managing psoriasis can be challenging and naturally you may turn to the internet for advice. With multiple websites, platforms and forums at your fingertips, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and potentially be subjected to medical misinformation.

At The Psoriasis Association, we are committed to providing high quality, reliable and up-to-date information on an on-going basis.

As a result, we are extremely pleased to hold The PIF TICK accreditation - the only UK quality mark for trustworthy health information.

When you see the PIF TICK on leaflets, websites, apps or videos, it shows an organisation’s health information has been through a professional and robust production process.

Keep an eye out for the PIF TICK across our health information and resources. Learn about our PIF TICK accreditation and what it means here.

What are the Dangers of Medical Misinformation?

Medical misinformation and fake news can be harmful to individuals managing psoriasis and other chronic illnesses. Some of the dangers include:

Exacerbating Symptoms: Misinformation can lead individuals to make lifestyle choices that worsen their condition. For example, misconceptions about triggers, food groups or treatments may lead to people avoiding them and worsening their psoriasis.

Delayed Treatment: People might opt-out or postpone medically approved treatments, based on fake news resulting in potential complications.

Stress & Discomfort: People living with psoriasis might experience false hope when relying on quick fixes and become distressed when expectations are not met.

Financial Burden: Miracle treatments often come with a hefty price tag. People might invest in products and be left out of pocket when the treatments fail to work.

How to Spot Medical Misinformation – 5 Top Tips:

Identifying reliable sources amongst the wealth of information available on the internet is crucial for people living psoriasis and other chronic conditions. Here are 5 top tips for spotting medical misinformation:

  1. Did the ad ‘pop-up’: Pop-up ads are a popular form of online advertising which attract web traffic. If you didn’t naturally land on a page, be cautious as these pop-ups can sometimes be harmful to your PC or mobile. Consider downloading anti-virus software.
  2. Check the Source: In the UK, reliable sources for medical information, include the NHS, Gov.UK and for people living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis - The Psoriasis Association. Be wary of websites or individuals who are selling or promoting unverified products or treatments.
  3. Check Credentials: Look for content created or endorsed by qualified healthcare professionals and experts in the field. This might include consultant dermatologists, rheumatologists, professors or academics.
  4. Cross Check Information: To confirm how valid a claim is, look at multiple reputable sources. Is the same information appearing again and again and from credible sources?
  5. Use Your Judgement: As the age-old saying goes ‘if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is’. If an article or post makes bold statements, promises a miraculous cure, be sceptical and use your personal judgement.

As a reminder, The Psoriasis Association are PIF Tick accredited, meaning that we are a reliable source of information. Our platforms are monitored from Monday – Friday between 9am – 5pm.

If you’re ever unsure about anything you see online regarding psoriasis, it is always best to report the content and consult your GP or Dermatologist before trying any new treatments.

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