A new KFF survey reveals the broad reach of health misinformation, with at least four in 10 people saying that they’ve heard each of 10 specific false claims about COVID-19, reproductive health, and gun violence.
The new survey is one component of a new KFF program area aimed at identifying and monitoring health misinformation and trust in the United States, placing particular emphasis on communities that are most adversely affected by misinformation, such as people of color, immigrants and rural communities.
Alongside today’s survey findings, KFF will soon release companion survey reports highlighting the extent of health misinformation among Black and Hispanic adults, as well as rural residents. KFF will also soon release a regular “Health Misinformation Monitor,” which will document emerging health misinformation, identify its primary sources, and examine the role that social media and news outlets play in its spread.
The misinformation examined in the survey includes:
- Vaccines. A third (34%) of adults say the false claim that COVID-19 vaccines have caused thousands of sudden deaths in otherwise healthy people is definitely (10%) or probably (23%) true. Black adults are more likely to believe this false statement than White adults, while Republicans and independents are more likely than Democrats to do so. People with college degrees are less likely than those with a high-school education or less to say this is true.
- Reproductive health. About a third of adults say the false claim that using birth control such as the pill or an IUD makes it harder for most women to get pregnant once they stop using them is “definitely” (5%) or “probably” true (29%). Adults under the age of 65, Republicans, independents, and Black and Hispanic adults are more likely to say this claim is true than their counterparts.
- Gun violence. When asked about the inaccurate statement that people who have firearms at home are less likely to be killed with a gun, about four in ten (42%) say it is “definitely” (13%) or “probably” (29%) true. Gun owners are more likely than non-gun owners to say that this false claim is definitely or probably true (55% vs. 37%).