C13 - Social media and pharmacists’ roles in the infodemic

Auditorium 2-3

Organised in collaboration with FIP’s Community Pharmacy Section, Social and Administrative Pharmacy Section and FIP Ethics Expert Group


Dr Peter Guthrey (Australia)


Pharmacists are key health professionals with the required skills and training to contribute to the fight against public health emergencies, such as the COVID pandemic. Primarily, they can be a source of accurate and reliable information to the public or other fellow health professionals. However, during the pandemic, public health interventions were often confusingly expedited and relayed to consumers on various platforms, including social media. COVID-19 has highlighted many issues and dissimilarities in health systems and their decision making. Whether it was different recommendations on safety of vaccines, or variation in strategies to reduce spread of infection, these decisions, due to the nature of the pandemic, were often not quite on the mark, often perpetuated by social media and threatened public confidence in the decisions and the public health institutions responsible. The spread of misinformation on social media e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, and through other channels, dramatically altered the way society communicates and accesses health information.

There are features of social media platforms that may influence self-care decision-making. For example, researchers have suggested anecdotal information on social media, including the number of views, comments, and likes, can influence health decision-making. As a consequence, it is plausible that social media influences decision-making about what constitutes appropriate self-care among particular cohorts e.g., younger people. This phenomenon has been named the “infodemic”.

Public trust in science and evidence is essential for overcoming COVID-19. Finding solutions to the infodemic is as vital for saving lives from COVID-19 as public health measures such as mask-wearing and hand hygiene and equitable access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.
So, considering recent events and the role of social media in public health decision-making, what are the ethical considerations for regulators when making complex and uncertain decisions? And how should pharmacists communicate complex health measures to patients?



14:00 – 14:10      Introduction by the chair 
14:10 – 14:35


Ethical considerations when making public health decisions
Assoc.Prof. Betty Chaar, University of Sydney, Australia
14:35 – 15:00


Addressing inequities in pharmacy education due to COVID-19 – Learnings from different regions
Prof. Patricia Acuna-Johnson, Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile
15:00 – 15:20   Panel discussion and Q&A 
15:20 – 15:30


Conclusion by the chair 

Learning Objectives

  1. To examine the successes and lessons for regulators, pharmacy organisations, and pharmacists in communicating time-critical population health information
  2. To explore the current and future potential for pharmacists in deterring misinformation and disinformation on social media
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