Health and Science Misinformation
The substantial amounts of inaccurate or false health information circulating online, coupled with social polarization and low levels of public trust in scientific institutions, pose a significant challenge for health communication practice. In response to these trends and developments, HCIRB has been leading several initiatives to better understand and address online misinformation and its consequences for health. The goal is to better understand the current information environment and inform effective approaches for responding to misinformation and mitigating its impact.
These initiatives continue to advance scientific knowledge regarding several key research questions, including:
- What is the prevalence of cancer-related misinformation on social media platforms?
- What are the real-world consequences of exposure to health misinformation?
- Which populations are most vulnerable to online misinformation? What demographic and psychosocial factors predict misinformation endorsement and sharing?
- How do individuals process and assess information quality and source credibility when interacting with social media content? What factors are most salient in determining information trustworthiness?
- What are the most effective ways to meet people's information needs, address misinformation, and foster health and science literacy?
|Innovative Approaches to Studying Cancer Communication in the New Information Ecosystem
PAR 22-164 (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
PAR 22-165 (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)
|September 08, 2025
AJPH special issue about health misinformation on social media
The NCI partnered with the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) to publish a special issue highlighting cutting-edge research that addresses critical issues surrounding health misinformation on social media. Published on October 1, 2020, the special issue showcases diverse approaches to a rapidly expanding research area and addresses topics such as vaccine misinformation, unproven cancer treatments, and rumors about emerging infectious diseases. The issue also highlights the role of healthcare providers in addressing health misinformation and important ethical considerations for health promotion efforts on social media.
Where We Go From Here: Health Misinformation on Social Media
Wen-Ying Sylvia Chou, Anna Gaysynsky, and Joseph N. Capella
Who Is Susceptible to Online Health Misinformation?
Laura D. Scherer and Gordon Pennycook
Correction as a Solution for Health Misinformation on Social Media
Emily K. Vraga and Leticia Bode
Roles for Health Care Professionals in Addressing Patient-Held Misinformation Beyond Fact Correction
Brian G. Southwell, Jamie L. Wood, and Ann Marie Navar
Social Media and Cancer Misinformation: Additional Platforms to Explore
Eric R. Walsh-Buhi
Crowdfunding Cannabidiol (CBD) for Cancer: Hype and Misinformation on GoFundMe
Marco Zenone, Jeremy Snyder, and Timothy Caulfield
Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment: Misinformation on Pinterest, 2018
Tamar Wilner and Avery Holton
HPV Vaccine Searches on Pinterest: Before and After Pinterest's Actions to Moderate Content
Jeanine P.D. Guidry, Emily K. Vraga, Linnea I. Laestadius, Carrie A. Miller, Aurora Occa, Xiaoli Nan, Hannah M. Ming, Yan Qin, Bernard F. Fuemmeler, and Kellie E. Carlyle
Facebook Pages, the "Disneyland" Measles Outbreak, and Promotion of Vaccine Refusal as a Civil Right, 2009-2019
David A. Broniatowski, Amelia M. Jamison, Neil F. Johnson, Nicolás Velasquez, Rhys Leahy, Nicholas Johnson Restrepo, Mark Dredze, and Sandra C. Quinn
Limited Role of Bots in Spreading Vaccine-Critical Information Among Active Twitter Users in the United States: 2017-2019
Adam G. Dunn, Didi Surian, Jason Dalmazzo, Dana Rezazadegan, Maryke Steffens, Amalie Dyda, Julie Leask, Enrico Coiera, Aditi Dey, and Kenneth D. Mandl
Content Themes and Influential Voices Within Vaccine Opposition on Twitter, 2019
Erika Bonnevie, Jaclyn Goldbarg, Allison K. Gallegos-Jeffrey, Sarah D. Rosenberg, Ellen Wartella, and Joe Smyser
Adapting and Extending a Typology to Identify Vaccine Misinformation on Twitter
Amelia Jamison, David A. Broniatowski, Michael C. Smith, Kajal S. Parikh, Adeena Malik, Mark Dredze, and Sandra C. Quinn
Contrasting Misinformation and Real-Information Dissemination Network Structures on Social Media During a Health Emergency
Lida Safarnejad, Qian Xu, Yaorong Ge, Siddharth Krishnan, Arunkumar Bagarvathi, and Shi Chen
Twitter Communication During an Outbreak of Hepatitis A in San Diego, 2016-2018
Eyal Oren, Lourdes Martinez, R. Eliza Hensley, Purva Jain, Taufa Ahmed, Intan Purnajo, Atsushi Nara, and Ming-Hsiang Tsou
Mitigating Health and Science Misinformation: A Scoping Review
In 2022, HCIRB undertook a scoping review to synthesize the published literature regarding misinformation mitigation interventions, with the goal of characterizing and evaluating various misinformation mitigation strategies that have been tested and identifying research gaps and opportunities for future study. The review included English-language articles published between January 2017 and July 2022 that a) focused on health- or science-related misinformation, b) tested a misinformation mitigation strategy or intervention (e.g., prebunking), and c) measured misinformation-related outcomes or effects. Studies that met the inclusion criteria were coded for sample characteristics, health/science topic, type of mitigation strategy, research methods, outcome measures, and intervention efficacy.