Novel coronavirus (92) Over-information and contradictory information (3)

5 March, 2020

Dear Joseph, [Joseph Ana, Nigeria: Novel coronavirus 90]

I agree that the accuracy of information should be a key issue.

The discussion point that I was trying to raise is that over-information may lead to the following:

a) when reliable information is too detailed or not 'visible at a glance', people may turn to other sources of information (as illustrated by the anecdote I my previous message (88)). In that example, because the NHS site was deemed to have "a lot more information", people were happy to share less reliable information that was easier to follow. It's easy to forget that people have very different levels of health literacy, despite their educational background or work.

b) when there's too much information in the press and media, it may lead to confusion and panic. I live in an area of the UK which has had its first case confirmed and has seen 'panic buying' and supermarket shelves emptying as a result.

(I read this interesting article yesterday

c) too much information may feel overwhelming for some and lead some people to 'shut down' and not follow latest advice and guidance.

d) too much information is difficult to monitor for quality and 'debunk' the myths.

I'm sure that as I write this there are people that are studying behaviours and will give the much needed evidence on the validity of these points.

Regarding the points made by you and Siân Williams (85) - yes, I agree, I think there are many information sources that I didn't include in my list; for example in some communities, community elders, religious leaders or other leaders may also be information sources. There are no doubt other sources that I can't think of right now!

(Finally, can I add that my original post 88 used formatting to make clear the misinformed guidance I was referring to. However, messages on this forum are plain text. I was NOT asking for the 'guidance' to be shared, that was part of the original message!)

Best wishes


HIFA profile: Julie N Reza is a UK-based specialist in communications for biosciences, global health & international development ( She predominantly works with NGOs and not-for-profit organisations. Previously she was the senior science editor at TDR, based at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva; prior to this she worked at the Wellcome Trust, UK, leading educational projects on international health topics including trypanosomiasis and trachoma. She has a PhD in immunology and a specialist degree in science communication. She also has several years research and postgraduate teaching experience. She is a member of the HIFA Steering Group and HIFA Social Media Working Group.

Email: naimareza AT