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Combating medical myths: Pharmacists are essential
Michelle Powell 1121

Combating medical myths: Pharmacists are essential

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Today's Perspective

Kristin Wiisanen, PharmD, FAPhA, FCCP

Patients often take action on their health and wellness based on what they hear on TV. Surprising, but true. According to CDC, over a 6-month period, nearly three-quarters of primetime viewers in the United States reported learning something new about a health or wellness topic simply by watching TV.

Although there are reputable sources of health information on TV, social media channels, in the news media, or via messaging apps, these can also be sources of misinformation for patients.

This month’s Pharmacy Today cover story delves into the harmful impact of medical misinformation—and disinformation (i.e., intentional dissemination of falsehoods)—and what pharmacists can do to help. According to the story, medical misinformation can lead to vaccine hesitancy, medication noncompliance, disease outbreaks, hospitalization, and even death.

Pharmacists play a key role in helping to debunk medical falsehoods. Proactively educating patients from the start, before they encounter false information, is particularly effective. It’s harder to undo a belief than it is to prevent it. By listening to patients, asking open-ended questions in a nonjudgmental manner, and referring patients to credible sources, pharmacists can help prevent medical misinformation and patient harm.

In this issue of Today, you’ll also find the latest on newly approved drugs including a new migraine-relief option, tips on counseling patients about sunscreens and sunburns, and get an update about helping patients with Alzheimer disease. Learn about the newest overdose threat in street opioids, how to help prevent childhood poisoning from opioids, and find an update on what you need to know about prostate cancer treatment in this month’s CPE article.

Patients rely on their pharmacists to be sources of credible, unbiased scientific data about health, wellness, and medications. According to the University of California at San Francisco, combating medical misinformation also requires educating patients about potential red flags, including uncited or unsourced facts, information tied to selling a product, out-of-date studies or statistics, or claims of “miracle” cures. As is the case for other potential paths to medical harm, pharmacists are essential to combating negative patient outcomes that may result from medical myths. In the case of medical misinformation, providing a listening ear and targeted evidence-based education can make a difference to your patient’s health.

Have a great Today!  ■

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