Public COVID-19 Myth-Busting Website #PurposePeoplePlace

The Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland based in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in NUI Galway will help the public quickly and easily check the reliability of health claims being circulated by social media.

The new website, iHealthFacts.ie, is funded by the Health Research Board in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also brought with it an infodemic of misinformation and disinformation. The pandemic has meant the general public are faced with a constant stream of false information through a range of sources including social media and personal communication, for example messaging groups.

Members of the public can submit any health claims they are curious about to the iHealthFacts website. A team of researchers in NUI Galway have established a process for assessing prioritised health claims by searching for evidence to support or refute the claim. The prepared responses are also reviewed by a team of Evidence Advisors from NUI Galway, UCD, TCD, UL, UCC and RCSI and by a panel of Public and Patient Advisors (PPI Ignite, NUI Galway).

The result is a short, easy to read, clearly presented response to help the public make informed decisions about their own health. iHealthFacts is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and is intended for information purposes only. The website will be updated regularly in response to the submitted and prioritised claims so members of the public can quickly and easily check the reliability of a health claim circulated by social media. The researchers hope this information will help people think critically about health claims and make well-informed choices.

Dr Sandra Galvin, HRB-TMRN Programme Manager at NUI Galway, said: “Our team of researchers have already collected and addressed a number of claims which can be viewed on iHealthFacts.ie. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic. These include: Can spraying alcohol or chlorine on your body prevent you becoming infected with the new coronavirus? Does taking ibuprofen worsen the symptoms of COVID-19? Does the use of petrol pumps spread COVID-19 rapidly? iHealthFacts.ie is easy to use, and we welcome the public’s help in submitting health claims to be prioritised for review.”

Dr Sandra Galvin

Dr Sandra Galvin joined the School of Nursing and Midwifery in NUI Galway as the Coordinator for the Health Research Board - Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN). The goal of the HRB-TMRN is to improve the conduct and reporting clinical trials in Ireland. To accomplish this she is involved in coordinating the provision of a range of activities such as educational events and liaising with experts in this area to provide a direct support service to trialists and researchers in the field.