1. Toronto, Coleen PhD, RN, CNE

Article Content

Nurses are expected to promote evidence-based health practices when communicating with patients. At a time when health scams are increasing and facilitated by social media, little is known about health professionals' capacity to identify deceptive health claims. In an evidence-based practice RN-BS course, each student is asked to search social media for a health claim (diet, activity, supplement) that is promoted to the public. Next, students apply the Risk of Deception (RoD) tool1 to the claim and support each rating and final score with a rationale in a discussion board assignment. The following RoD categories are evaluated: authority, scarcity, liking and similarity, reciprocation, effects claims, pseudotechnical language, pseudoscience, and evidence of efficacy level. Readers may go to the article1 to learn more about the RoD tool. Students search the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, PubMed, and other databases to locate scientific evidence that supports the health claim and reference if found. Students regularly describe product claims related to weight loss and learn that most are not supported by evidence. Students find that deceptive claims use pseudoscientific language and celebrity endorsements to support products, and they discover that social media is a place where all kinds of products are promoted that are not supported by scientific research. The learning activity is well received by students and helps increase their ability to detect deceptive marketing practices that they or patients may fall victim to.




1. Garrett B, Murphy S, Jamal S, et al. Internet health scams-developing a taxonomy and risk-of-deception assessment tool. Health Soc Care Community. 2019;27(1):226-240. doi:. [Context Link]