Combating the COVID-19 Infodemic Through Evidence-Based Misinformation Management Strategies

Funding Source: U.S. Food & Drug Administration via a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)

Total Amount:  $224,478.00

Project period: 09/30/2021 to 06/29/2024

Project Summary: We propose a multi-phase research project that culminates with developing the first evidence-based guidance on messaging that combats misinformation during public

health crises. We begin the proposed project with a targeted literature review on public

health misinformation management strategies, coupled with an FDA expert solicitation.

Throughout the project, we will continuously update the targeted literature review with

the latest science on public health misinformation management. Next, we conduct two online experiments with U.S. adults, oversampling for African Americans/Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos, to understand which message features are most effective at combating a variety of public health misinformation types for different audiences. We conclude the project with misinformation management message guidance for the FDA. Ultimately, the FDA can use this message guidance to address misinformation on a broad array of issues, including the availability, safety and efficacy of drugs and other treatments; preventions for COVID-19; and public health measures to combat future public health crises. Experts indicate that the uncertainty surrounding the emergence of new COVID-19 strains and vaccine distribution hurdles make it difficult to forecast when COVD-19 will end. What is easier to forecast is that the challenge of public health misinformation will persist well into the future.