Interstitial Lung Disease
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Is social media misinformation on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis hurting patients?

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Social media posts containing misinformation about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) found on IPF-related pages often have higher engagement and increased viewability than posts containing useful information about IPF, according to a study.

“Identifying ways to help patients with IPF discriminate between useful and harmful information on Facebook and other social media platforms is an important task for health care professionals,” the study authors wrote.

In this cross-sectional analysis performed on a single date, 523 posts on 12 and 27 IPF-related groups and pages, respectively, were analyzed for guideline content, scientific information, support information, and potentially harmful information.

Overall, 42% of posts contained guideline content, 24% had useful support content, 20% provided useful scientific information, and 5% contained potentially harmful content. IPF-related news content made up 29% of posts. Nonmedical users accounted for 85% of posts.

Whereas posts that had supportive information had more engagement, posts containing guideline content had less and a higher likelihood of having potentially harmful content.

Kochan A, Ong S, Guler S, et al. Social media content of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis groups and pages on Facebook: Cross-sectional analysis. JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2021;7(5):e24199. doi: 10.2196/24199. PMID: 34057425.