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What Is the “Public Good” in a Pandemic? Who Decides?: Policy Makers and the Need for Leadership in Society's Perception of Medical Information

What Is the “Public Good” in a Pandemic? Who Decides?: Policy Makers and the Need for Leadership in Society's Perception of Medical Information
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Author(s): Diane M. Janosek (Capitol Technology University, USA)
Copyright: 2022
Pages: 15
Source title: Handbook of Research on Cyberchondria, Health Literacy, and the Role of Media in Society’s Perception of Medical Information
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Hacer Aker (Selcuk University, Turkey) and Mary Aiken (University of East London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8630-3.ch001

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Abstract

Governments in liberal democracies, such as the U.S. and in Europe, derive their authority from the consent of the people and exist for the “public good.” This chapter explores the proper role of government in communicating information and in enacting public health measures to prevent the spread of infection during a pandemic. This chapter includes historical context and exemplars of government policy makers' dissemination of COVID-19 health information, both accurate and inaccurate ones. Government officials have a responsibility to promote and support public policy initiatives that balance public safety with individual rights and self-determination. In some cases, citizens did not trust the government initiatives nor the associated misinformation or lockdowns. People reacted by exercising their right to protest. This chapter highlights government actions that were not based on accurate information and contributed to its spread and an increase of cyberchondria across the population, demonstrating the public good may not have been well served.

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