PIF TICK guide

False health information – the warning signs


False health information can be dangerous. There are two main types of false health information:

Misinformation – false or misleading information shared by someone because they believe it.

Disinformation – false information spread deliberately to deceive people.

To help stop the spread of false information, check what you are reading, watching or listening to is reliable before sharing.

Warning signs to watch out for

Bubble with illustration of pills and tablets

“Miracle cure” or “wonder drug”

Claims like this are designed to catch your attention. However, they often lack facts to back them up. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Illustration of bubble with three different sized people in

Small groups of people – big results

Generally speaking, more people in a study means more reliable results. Be careful of information which claims big results from small sample sizes.

Illustration of bubble with scales inside. Bias can be a sign of false health information.

Bias

Does the information seem balanced? If it is all negative or all positive it might be biased. This does not mean it is untrue. But you should think about their reasons for publishing.

Illustration of bubble with a speech bubble and a lightbulb in

“My friend said…”

Personal stories are great for knowing other people are going through the same thing as you. But everybody responds to treatment in different ways. Just because someone has had a particular side effect or outcome does not mean you will.


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False health information – the warning signs


Publish date: June 2021
Review date: June 2023

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