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The 1918 influenza pandemic affected one-third of the world’s population and resulted in 50 million deaths. One hundred years ago, medical therapies and countermeasures were significantly limited, and information exchange that could facilitate any public health intervention primarily occurred by telephone, mail, or person-to-person interaction.
Now, more than a century later, a novel coronavirus is the cause of a new global pandemic threatening millions of lives.1 Today, many methods of sharing information have been subsumed by giant social media platforms that have incredible speed, reach, and penetration. More than 2.9 billion individuals use social media regularly, and many for long stretches of time.2
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Corresponding Author: Raina M. Merchant, MD, MSHP, Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health, Center for Health Care Innovation, University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: March 23, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4469
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Merchant reported being funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01HL141844) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (R01 HG009655). Dr Lurie reported currently being a compensated strategic advisor for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation and serving as Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the US Department of Health and Human Services from 2009 to 2017.
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