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A Campaign to Combat Health Misinformation

U.S. Surgeon General campaign highlights rise of misleading health information online

March 11, 2022

The U.S. Surgeon General has launched a campaign seeking research, data, and personal stories related to health misinformation during the pandemic and how it has affected individual health choices.

In a new request for information (RFI), U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the effort aims to deepen our collective understanding of health misinformation and its effects on society.

“This RFI seeks to understand both the impact of health misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique role that technology and social media platforms play in the dissemination of critical health information during a public health emergency,” the RFI notes.

Here’s what to know:

  • Definition:  Health misinformation is false, inaccurate, or misleading information, according to the best available evidence at the time
  • Areas of interest:  The RFI seeks information about how health misinformation affects health care; COVID-19 misinformation on individual technology platforms; and the ways COVID-19 misinformation has affected individuals and communities
  • Use:  The information shared through the RFI process will be shared with the public and can be used for research purposes 
  • Stakeholders:  Anyone affected by health misinformation is encouraged to participate, including researchers, health care workers, and those who have seen the effect of health misinformation on loved ones or their community
  • Deadline:  Comments must be submitted by May 2

The campaign comes after the U.S. issued a public health advisory about the rise of misinformation and its threat to public health.

“Health misinformation has caused confusion and led people to decline COVID-19 vaccines, reject public health measures such as masking and physical distancing, and use unproven treatments,” the RFI notes. “It has also led to harassment of and violence against public health workers, health care workers, airline staff, and other frontline workers.”

HAP joins the effort to combat health misinformation and encourages everyone to carefully consider the information they share online. Pennsylvania’s hospitals play an important role to serve as trusted voices in their local communities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends carefully considering these checkpoints before posting health information you are unsure about:

  • Check for information from the CDC or your local public health department
  • Ask a health care professional such as your doctor or nurse for more information
  • See if information has been verified by a credible source
  • If you’re not sure, don’t share

The full request for information is available online.