Consumer informatics and COVID-19 pandemics: challenges and opportunities for research

Pascal Staccini, Annie Y. S. Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objective: To summarise the state of the art during the year 2020 in consumer health informatics and education, with a special emphasis on "Managing Pandemics with Health Informatics - Successes and Challenges". Methods: We conducted a systematic search of articles published in PubMed using a predefined set of queries, which identified 147 potential articles for review. These articles were screened according to topic relevance and 15 were selected for consideration of best paper candidates, which were then presented to a panel of international experts for full paper review and scoring. The top five papers were discussed in a consensus meeting. Three papers received the highest score from the expert panel, and these papers were selected to be representative papers on consumer informatics for managing pandemics in the year 2020. Results: Bibliometrics analysis conducted on words found in abstracts of the candidate papers revealed 4 clusters of articles, where the clustering outcomes explained 77.04% of the dispersion. The first cluster composed of articles related to the use of mobile apps for video consultation and telehealth during the pandemic. The second revealed studies reporting the lived experience of healthcare workers and patients during COVID-19. The third focused on ways people used the internet to seek for health information during the pandemic and the dissemination of fake news. The last cluster composed of articles reporting the use of social listening methods (e.g., via tweet hashtags) to explore the spread of the virus around the world. Conclusions: The pandemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) constitutes a grave risk to the global community and sparks a significant increase in public interest and media coverage, especially on social media. Consumers are facing a new set of challenges that were not considered before COVID-19, often finding themselves in a world that is constantly changing-blended with facts and fake information-and unable to decide what to do next. Despite most people understanding the good will behind public health policies, one must not forget it is individuals we are supporting and that their personal circumstances may affect how they perceive and comply with these policies. Consumers more than ever need help to make sense of the uncertainty and their situation and we need to help them navigate the best option in a world that is constantly evolving.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)210-218
Number of pages9
JournalYearbook of Medical Informatics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

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Copyright IMIA and Thieme 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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