Background: The spread of misinformation about different health issues, has become a growing threat nowadays. The process of identifying credible information became a real problem of high urgency. It took a new dimension with the creation of numerous web platforms and ubiquity of internet coverage. During the current pandemic of COVID-19, misinformation is not the only challenge, but infodemic is another serious consequence of the growing digitization. Infodemic is defined as an excessive amount of information about a problem that is typically unreliable, false or misleading, spreads rapidly, and makes a solution more difficult to achieve. This causes anxiety and mistrust in health authorities, leading to decrease capacities for decision-making and undermining public responses, especially during disease outbreaks or pandemics.
Aim: The current study was designed to evaluate the effect of implementing a digital intervention training module, to educate participants about choosing credible online health information, according to quality standards and protocols.
Methods: This is a quasi-experimental study with pre/post-assessment comparisons. It took place between October 2019 and October 2020 with the recruitment of a group of 480 medical students, from 1st , 2nd and 3rd academic years, at the Faculty of Medicine. They were assigned to an intervention and a control group. The intervention group attended the digital health module, which was conducted online with both its theoretical and practical components. Participants responded to pre and post online questionnaire through google forms, in addition to a post-intervention assessment.
Results: Results showed post-assessment significant improvements in all items related to seeking online health information and the ability to check the credibility of such information, among the intervention group in comparison to the control group with p-value< 0.05.
Conclusion: The infodemic caused by COVID- 19 pandemic, with all its associated psychological pressure and panic due to misinformation, made it really crucial to disseminate awareness about credible digital information sources. Targeted digital health interventions about online health information quality and credibility, are highly promising, due to the safe outreach and accessibility without any physical contacting, especially during the pandemic time.