On April 16, 2020, Dr. Beth St. Jean, Associate Professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies (UMD iSchool), virtually joined scientists, doctors, and other researchers from across the country to contribute new scientific insights to the national dialog around COVID-19.
Dr. St. Jean, an expert on consumer health information justice, shares that with misinformation and disinformation rampant around COVID-19, people without sufficient health literacy may believe this information and even act upon it, sometimes with potentially deadly consequences. She explains that various forms of social injustice that people experience, including poverty and inadequate education, put limits on their access to trustworthy information or ability to recognize it.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified health injustice, while also bringing it much more into public view. The very same populations who have always borne the brunt of health injustices in this country – people who are older; who belong to racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, and other types of minority populations; who have lower incomes; who have less education; who lack health insurance; who are immigrants; who are homeless; who are incarcerated, etc. – are seeing their existing disadvantages compounded and their health outlooks and outcomes worsen,” says Dr. St. Jean.
The virtual panel is part of a series organized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Board on Higher Education and Workforce (BHEW) to crowd-source scientists to improve public information about COVID-19.
Watch here (Dr. St. Jean at 39:20):