The Division of Population Health Sciences (DPHS) includes the Institute for Circumpolar
Health Studies, the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, an undergraduate minor in Public Health, and the Master of Public Health program. Advancing health sciences through the educational opportunities of academic
training, research, and community service to improve the well-being of the diverse
peoples of Alaska and the circumpolar north.
Population health sits at the intersection of medicine and public health spanning
the social sciences. Population health explores the social factors that influence
health using an evidence based approach and community engagement to reduce disparities,
measure health needs and implement effective health innovations.
At UAA, computer science Professor Shawn Butler has been using machine learning to debunk COVID-19 misinformation on social media. Butler’s efforts are part of the Division of Population Health Sciences and Department of Journalism and Public Communication’s mission to combat COVID-19 misinformation on public-facing Facebook pages with scientifically accurate information from credited sources through its ongoing Alaska Public Health Information Response Team project.
Founding members of the Alaska Public Health Information Response Team submitted a book chapter proposal, entitled "Addressing Health Misinformation in the Infodemic Era: The Alaska Public Health Information Response Team," in the early spring of 2021 for consideration in a forthcoming book, "Building Health Misinformation Immunity: A Professional's Guide to Helping the Public," which was recently published.
A local group has been fighting inaccurate information on Facebook pages. Called the Alaska Public Health Information Response Team, it enlists UAA strategic communications students to spot the bad information, and local health professionals to intervene with posts on Facebook that introduce accurate information.
As the world continues to navigate this once-in-a-generation pandemic, new scientific breakthroughs are unearthed every day and are widely accessible online. Accompanying this free flow of information, however, is an increase of damaging misinformation, referred to by the World Health Organization as an Infodemic.
As misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic seemingly spills into almost every nook and cranny of the internet, some public health professionals in Alaska are countering false claims and myths in an embattled space: Facebook comment threads.