Exploring Healthcare Providers’ Perceptions of and Experience With Public Health Emergency Misinformation

Healthcare provider explaining care to patient

The unprecedented spread of health misinformation—characterized as an “infodemic” by the World Health Organization and the United Nations—is a growing threat to the public’s health and can have deadly consequences, especially during public health emergencies.

Misinformation can flourish when there is a lack of evidence-based, trustworthy information. As a highly trusted information source, healthcare providers (HCPs) can play a critical role in countering misinformation and promoting healthy behaviors. Research and news reports suggest that HCPs commonly encounter health misinformation; in one study, 94 percent of HCPs reported recently hearing medical misinformation from patients. HCPs themselves are vulnerable to misinformation and may lack the necessary tools to effectively counter it and provide care in line with evolving scientific evidence.

Because HCPs have the potential to mitigate health misinformation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is initiating research to understand HCPs’ experiences with and reactions to health misinformation, especially in the context of public health emergencies.

AIR is conducting qualitative in-depth interviews with healthcare providers (e.g., primary care doctors, specialists, physician assistants, and nurses) to understand their perceptions of and experiences with misinformation, specifically as it relates to public health emergencies, and to identify ways in which the FDA can best support HCPs in reacting to and combatting health-related misinformation in their practices.