News Release

Large Shares of Black Adults, Hispanic Adults, and Rural Residents are Unsure Whether to Believe Many False Health Claims  

New Reports Highlight Key Data About Each Group’s Exposure to Health Misinformation, and Their Trusted Sources for Health Information

Drawing on KFF’s Misinformation Pilot Poll, KFF today released three follow-up reports examining exposure to, and belief in, health misinformation among Black adults, Hispanic adults, and rural communities.

As with the general public, large shares within each group are uncertain about whether each of 10 false health claims are true or not, describing them as either “probably true” or “probably false.” This uncertainty leaves people vulnerable to misinformation but also provides an opportunity to combat it.

The shares who say each of the false claims is “definitely true” ranges from 3% to 21%, depending on the claim and the subgroup, with much larger shares falling in the uncertain middle. For example, most Black adults (61%), Hispanic adults (65%), and rural adults (65%) say that the false claim that COVID-19 vaccines have caused thousands of deaths in otherwise healthy people is “probably true” or “probably false.”

The reports also examine each group’s sources for health information, including traditional broadcast, print and online news outlets, and social media, as well as who they would trust for health information.

Across all three groups, local television news emerged as one of the traditional news sources people were most likely to trust “a lot” for health information. Social media is widely used across all three groups, particularly for younger Black adults, and Spanish-speaking and younger Hispanic adults, though social media sources were far less trusted for health information.

The national poll, which was released in August, and these follow-up reports are part of a new KFF program area aimed at identifying and monitoring health misinformation and trust, with an emphasis on communities more frequently impacted by misinformation, such as people of color, immigrants, and rural populations.

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. Sign up for future KFF alerts on this topic

Designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at KFF, the KFF Health Misinformation Tracking Poll Pilot was conducted May 23-June 12, 2023, online and by telephone among a nationally representative sample of 2,007 U.S. adults, including 510 Black non-Hispanic adults, 514 Hispanic adults, and 218 adults who in live rural areas. Interviews were conducted in English and in Spanish. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample, plus or minus 6 percentage points for Black adults, plus or minus 6 percentage points for Hispanic adults, and plus or minus 9 percentage points for rural adults. For results based on other subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher. Support for this work was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of RWJF. KFF maintains full editorial control over all of its policy analysis, polling, and journalism activities.

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The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.