Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: Practical playbook for addressing health misinformation

14 March, 2024

Citation: Nagar A, Grégoire V, Sundelson A, O’Donnell-Pazderka E, Jamison AM, Sell TK.

Practical playbook for addressing health misinformation. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security; 2024.

"This publication was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents, including references to non-US government sites on the Internet, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor constitute or imply endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the US government. Playbook Overview

“Misleading rumors, misinformation, and disinformation can make health events more complicated, reduce trust in public health efforts, and lead to negative health impacts. The Practical playbook for addressing health misinformation provides guidance on ways public

health and medical professionals can set themselves up for success, make decisions on when they need to act to address misinformation, choose which actions and approaches might be useful to their audiences and information needs, and evaluate how their efforts are working.

It also provides tools, templates, and examples to help in these efforts. Although there is no “silver bullet” to solve the problem of public health misinformation, this playbook helps to lay the groundwork for health communicators such as yourself to address the issue.”

“Think ahead—before a rumor spreads or an emergency occurs—about possible rumors, successful approaches from the past, ways to improve the public’s resilience to false or misleading information and their knowledge of public health activities, and conduct the work outlined in the playbook.”

“Work to understand resources, responsibilities, procedures, skills, and available staff and experts yo.”u can turn to during a response. Leadership buy-in is important as well.”

“Engaging with community members and building partnerships enables communication through trusted messengers and networks. These relationships are best built over time.

“Make sure you understand who your audience is, the kind of communication they prefer, and how to be responsive to their needs”.

“To fill information gaps and respond to misinformation, figure out which questions you will need to answer and what misinformation is circulating. Establish social listening activities ahead of time through community partners and/or by using technology platforms.”

“You may be able to prevent the need for a misinformation response by filling information gaps and answering questions quickly and effectively. Getting ahead of rumours in this way is often more effective than responding to rumours that start to circulate later.”

HIFA Profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data

Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT