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course 1 topic 1 lesson 2

Addressing Misinformation


False information and rumors often develop when people are fearful and do not have enough clear, accurate information about a disease. It may also come from specific cultural beliefs of the disease and prevention measures that are inconsistent with the realities of how the virus spreads and how it can be stopped. Interact with the activity below to learn about acceptable (not stigmatizing) communication practices.

mythe fait

Tap the statements below to learn about acceptable (not stigmatizing)

A person should quarantine to reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19

If people do not quarantine, they will transmit COVID-19 and spread the virus, infecting others.

A person seeking treatment for COVID-19 symptoms.

The Wuhan Coronavirus is deadly.

The new coronavirus, COVID-19, can be deadly.

COVID-19 victims became infected through irresponsible behaviour.

A person with underlying health conditions will contract COVID-19.

It is important to take proper precautions when interacting with people with COVID-19.

Persons living with other health conditions are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.

Don't interact with COVID19 cases, or you'll catch it.

Complete the quiz below to test your knowledge. Once finished, click the BACK button twice in your browser to return to this page.

Quiz: Acceptable vs. Stigmatizing Communication

After you finish the quiz, quiz answers are available via the link below:

Acceptable v.s Stigmatizing Quiz Answers

Stigmatizing Information

Some information may also be framed in inappropriate ways that could have harmful effects, such as stigmatizing certain populations. Additionally, a lack of understanding or information can cause fear or panic among individuals leading to irrational assumptions and the need to blame others. For example, because the disease began in China, the information spreading in certain communities incorrectly associated the disease with anyone of Asian descent. This led to many people of Asian descent being labelled, stereotyped, and discriminated against because of the incorrect perception that they are personally responsible for or have the disease.

On the other hand, there was also a misconception that Africans were somehow immune to the disease, when in reality, everyone is susceptible to the disease.

Such associations can also negatively affect those with the disease , as well as their caregivers, family, friends, and communities.

Conflicting Information

During a pandemic, there is often confusion and rumors about the disease. People will get a lot of different information from many different sources, such as media, social media, friends, family, organizations, government institutions, and many other sources. Some of these sources may give conflicting information, and it can be difficult to determine scientific fact from fiction. When this happens, people may find it difficult to trust what they hear, and, therefore, may not be open to following recommended preventative measures for keeping themselves and their families safe.

How to Address Misinformation

CHWs like Mary are in one of the best positions to continue building trust with their communities and community leaders, especially because they know how to speak the language of their communities. They have an important role in providing timely and actionable health information so people know how to protect themselves and stay healthy. Thus, it is important that CHWs listen to their community members and respond to their questions and fears (and misinformation) with useful and fact-checked information, by practicing the following activities:

Explain who you are

Explain who you are, which organization you come from, and what you do in the community. 

Listen first to what people have to say about COVID-19, before sharing what you know.

Do not dismiss them if they have misconceptions or different beliefs. It is important to listen to their concerns, so that you can respond accordingly and adapt activities and information to better meet their needs.

Do not only tell people what to do but also engage them in a conversation. Find out what they already know, and what they want or need to know about COVID-19.

Do not dismiss them

Information shared with communities should use simple words and language and include practical advice that people can put into action.

Involve the community in designing and delivering health activities to secure their trust and support.

Make sure everybody has understood what you said. Ask questions to gauge their level of understanding.

Be honest when you don’t know something.

Work with community peers and leaders who are also well-trusted by the community.

Be honest when you don’t know something. Tell the individual or the community that you will try to learn more and will come back to them with more information. 

Do not attach race or location to this disease that could be stigmatizing, especially for people who have the disease and need treatment.

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