Health Promotion, Mass Media, Research Findings , , ,

Misinformation in Health Advertising

When was the last time you saw a TV commercial for the best new drug to cure your ______ condition? Sound too good to be true?

As consumers of health information and services, most of the population has to rely on the experts to tell them what is right for their health. Unfortunately, the source of that information may not have the consumer’s best interests in mind and may stretch the truth for their own financial gain.

Thankfully, there are FDA regulations in place to avoid this problem of misinformation in advertising, and researchers Southwell_B_8806-600like Dr. Brian Southwell of UNC, Duke, and RTI International (a man of many hats) are examining what the best approach is to remedy false or misleading ad exposure. Specifically, and with help of the FDA, Dr. Southwell and colleagues are attempting to figure out if corrective advertising works to counteract the initial deception.

These errors can be that of commission or omission, but unfortunately a lot of ideas in advertising are implied – which means it will be a lot harder to correct. Hopefully with the help of this research, consumers will be able to get the best (and correct) message from any attempts made to correct misinformation.

Learn more about Dr. Southwell’s work and research here,  and follow @MeasureRadio on Twitter to get a glimpse into his radio show, The Measure of Everyday Life, focusing on people, perceptions, and human behavior.

Featured image source: Yaz Lawsuit via

  • Jen

    That is matter of concern. Health sectors is no common to other business and need very care in every aspects. Be it advertising or health care services.

  • JenPort

    Chris Rock has a line about that: "Do you go to bed at night? Do you get up in the morning? We've got something for that!" It's so tempting to think the answer to everything is in a pill. Pills can help, but they rarely do all the work. Medication deserves to be respected for the amazing things it can do– but so do humans, in our entirety. And that includes scrutinizing advertisements carefully, which thankfully, Dr. Southwell does amazingly.

  • liran2015

    Misinformation is a huge problem due to the development of the technology. Now, more and more fake information created on the Internet.
    Due to the currency of sharing information on social media, an incorrect news can be spread via social media before the authoritative news agency has an opportunity to correct it. Even if the misinformation was once corrected, there is no guarantee that the correct news will reach the same population that the misreported version did.
    Misinformation in social marketing leads to panic and confusion. Consider Ebola outbreak recently and the way panic quickly spread online.
    How can we do to deal with the misinformation? How to regulate the Internet?

  • Brian Southwell