Public Health Association of BC Public Health Association of BC

Session Descriptions


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Main Session Descriptions


Opening Welcome & Traditional Acknowledgement of Territory

8:45 -9:00am, Thursday June 24th, 2021 & Friday June 25th, 2021

Our two-day event is to be opened each day with a traditional acknowledgement of the unceded Indigenous lands on which we live, work and learn. Presented by: Christopher Bate (Ardoch Algonquin First Nation & Comox Valley Senior Support Society)



Introduction to Summer Institute: Fake or Fact? Promoting Digital Health Literacy in an Era of New Media and Misinformation

9:00 – 10:00am, Thursday June 24th, 2021

The introduction session of the Public Health Summer Institute will provide a brief overview of the major issues of the summer Institute.  Public health and the broader health care community acknowledge the significance of the digital health landscape.  While the digital health space creates unimaginable potential to support and enhance health –the sheer vastness of information, the complexity of access and comprehension, issues of data privacy and surveillance demands very sophisticated health and digital health literacy skills.  Drs. Carroll and Donelle will provide an overview of the main substantive topics – health literacy, digital health literacy, and establish a shared understanding of the targeted concepts (i.e., misinformation, disinformation) within a health promotion / public health context. Presented by: Dr. Lorie Donelle (Western University) & Dr. Simon Carroll (University of Victoria)



Living In-fodemica: Youth Experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic

11:15 – 11:45am, Thursday June 24th, 2021

An infodemic is a new addition to our vocabulary, developed to define what we have been experiencing in the digital era, where communication has become more rapid fire than ever and mis- and disinformation can be shared as extensively as, if not more so, accurate information. The threats of the infodemic are not abstract, they have real world consequences that can be seen in increased levels of vaccine hesitancy in developed countries and the aversion members of the public are having to wearing masks or following other common sense public health practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have experienced how the infodemic has affected our personal and professional lives during the COVID-19 Pandemic, but what about the youth? What is the youth perspective on the COVID-19 Pandemic? How have they experienced it while growing up in a digital world? How have they responded to the mental and physical challenges associated with the pandemic? How are they fighting back against the infodemic? Presented by: Elisabeth Wilhelm (US Centre for Disease Control) Theo Munkacsi (Our Earth, Our Future)



A Toolkit for Identifying Information Voids in the COVID-19 Infodemic

1:15 – 1:45pm, Thursday June 24th, 2021

Media Measurement will present three methodologies that can be used to identify potential information voids, citizen questions and potential misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the digital space.

  • Designing and using a taxonomy to filter the overarching conversation around COVID-19 to focus on what is relevant, to direct public health information interventions, with examples of how this methodology has been applied by public health professionals across the world, including in Quebec.
  • Measuring and tracking levels of vaccine acceptance as expressed in social media, with insights into its application in specific markets.
  • Identifying rumours and misinformation shared on social media to enable tactical intervention. Presented by: Sarah Ball, Amy Wright, & Lucy Lavery (Media Measurement Ltd.)



Our House is on Fire: Supporting accurate information for responding to the climate and ecological crisis

9:15 – 10:00am, Friday June 25th, 2021

It has been more than a decade since the Lancet Commission on Climate Change declared that climate change represented the greatest threat to public health. Since that time, most nations have failed to meet targets around the high-profile Paris Agreement in spite of climate emergency declarations by national and local governments around the globe. While misleading information on global warming can usually be connected to special interests, the best-intentioned climate plans are failing to address global emissions. How is there such a disconnect information between a generation that believes “our house is on fire” and decision makers?  Are health systems adequately responding to the threats from climate change as well as the health impacts from the increasing loss of biodiversity? Join us in a discussion about how health systems can contribute to clear information about the causes of the climate and ecological crisis and our unique opportunities to contribute to planetary health. Dr. Tim Takaro will also share a local example from a government industry partnership in which there was clear misinformation about the multiple negative impacts on health and the environment from a pipeline project. Lessons for health systems and advocates from this experience will discussed. Presented by: Darryl Quantz (Fraser Health) & Dr. Tim Takaro (Simon Fraser University)



Breaking Through the Noise

11:15 – 11:45am, Friday June 25th, 2021

Social media is full of noise, especially in a pandemic. Join Kevin Parent and Amanda Higginson from the Ottawa Public Health social media team to discuss strategic health communication to break through the noise and reach audiences.

Topics covered will include:

  • Strategies to deliver accurate and transparent health information.
  • Using social media to engage the community.
  • Countering health misinformation and disinformation online.

Presented by: Kevin Parent & Amanda Higginson (Ottawa Public Health)



Inoculating Against an Infodemic: COVID-19 news, social media, and misinformation

12:30 – 1:30pm, Friday June 25th, 2021

False narratives about COVID-19 have gone global and are spreading almost as fast as the virus itself. Since January 2020, there have been over 7,000 false and unproven COVID-19 related claims shared via social media and other channels. The presentation will discuss how researchers at Ryerson University’s Social Media Lab, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), are spearheading an international effort to help stem the rise and counter COVID-19 misinformation via the COVID-19 Misinformation Portal. Dr. Gruzd will also share highlights from the Lab’s recent News, Social Media, and Misinformation Survey and insights from the analysis of COVID-19 false claims that are currently making the rounds online. Presented by: Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd (Ryerson University)