Exploring How People Interact With Dental Misinformation on Social Media: A Cross-Sectional Study

Background: Social media has been widely utilized to spread health-related information, which has led to the possibility of spreading medical misinformation. The extent of the issue is unknown, even though policymakers, researchers, and medical professionals agree that health misinformation must be controlled and combated.

 

The cross-sectional study conducted at the Faculty of Dentistry at Damascus University aimed to investigate the role that social media plays in people’s access to dental-related medical information and its impact on people of different ages, genders and educational levels, in addition to investigating the application most used to obtain this information, and the extent of individuals’ trust.

 

This quantitative cross-sectional study used a voluntary questionnaire distributed online in social media groups. Participants were of different ages, genders, and educational levels.

 

Of the 301 questionnaires collected, 291 were analyzed. The study sample comprised secondary education certificates, university students, and postgraduate students. 96.6% of the study sample used two or more SM applications. 71.5% of the study sample uses Facebook more than other applications for dental information research, followed by Instagram (14.8%), Telegram (8.2%), and finally WhatsApp (5.5%).

 

There was a significant difference between the age of the respondents and the SM application they used most (p = 0.027). 46.4% of the study sample were neutral in their answer about what they believed in the trust of information on SM sites, followed by 42.3% who did not agree with the trust of information on SM sites and 11.3 who agreed. 89.7% of the study sample visit the dentist when facing a medical problem, while 10.3% follow advice on SM sites.

 

understanding the methods and prevalence of health misinformation, as well as the current gaps in knowledge in this area, will help us to guide future research and, more specifically, to develop evidence-based digital policy action plans targeted at addressing this public health issue through various social media platforms.



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