Physician Poll: Medical Misinformation Is Harming Patients' Health

Bethesda, Maryland, March 29, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In a new poll, nearly three in four physicians said medical misinformation has hindered their ability to treat COVID-19 patients and has harmed patient outcomes. The poll, conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the de Beaumont Foundation, reveals that physicians and the American public agree that misinformation is a problem and that doctors should be held accountable for intentionally spreading false information. Key findings:

  • 72% of physicians said misinformation has made it harder to treat patients for COVID-19, and the same percentage said it has negatively impacted patient outcomes.
  • 44% of physicians estimate that more than half the COVID-19 information they see, read, and hear from patients is misinformation.
  • Physicians agree: COVID vaccines are safe (92%) and effective (91%). 
  • In addition to misinformation about COVID-19, more than two-thirds of physicians said misinformation is also a problem in the areas of weight loss, dietary supplements, mental health, and other vaccines.
  • Most physicians support disciplinary action for physicians who intentionally spread false information.

Download the research brief.

“These findings are important for two reasons,” said Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation. “First, it shows that despite the voices of a small majority, physicians almost universally agree that COVID vaccines are safe and effective. Second, misinformation isn’t going away. It’s not a COVID problem, but one that pervades many areas of health.”

The poll findings also suggest that Americans may trust their doctors more than doctors think. Nearly 7 in 10 physicians (68%) said they think patient trust has decreased over the past two years. But among the general population, only 21% said their trust has decreased, while 75% said it has increased or stayed about the same.

Regarding misinformation, more than half of physicians (51%) said misinformation spread by physicians is a problem. More than three in four (77%) said medical boards should discipline physicians for medical misinformation, but they are less supportive (65%) of passing laws that hold physicians accountable. 

Where do people get their information about medical care and treatment? The Internet is a primary source of information for both physicians and the public. More than 8 in 10 physicians said they trust medical/scientific journals, Internet searches, and colleagues, while other adults said they trust Internet searches much more than any other source.

For more information, see the research brief.


On behalf of the de Beaumont Foundation, Morning Consult conducted a national poll Dec. 9-19, 2022, among a sample of 806 U.S. physicians and Dec. 10-14, 2022, among 2,210 U.S. adults. The poll was conducted online. Results from the full physician survey have a margin of error of +/-3%, and results from the full adult sample have a margin of error of +/- 2%. Quotas were set on the physician survey based on census data, and the data among adults were weighted to approximate a representative sample of adults based on gender, age, race, educational attainment, and region.

Medical respondents were physicians who spend at least half their time performing direct patient care (time spent managing patients, including patient office visits, performing procedures, patient-related phone calls, follow-ups, etc.). The physician audience includes primary care providers, acute care physicians, urgent care physicians, hospital physicians, and other types of physician specialists.



Graphic: Misinformation Is Hazardous to Your Health

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