Conflicting health information: a critical research need

Delesha M. Carpenter, Lorie L. Geryk, Annie T. Chen, Rebekah H. Nagler, Nathan F. Dieckmann, Paul K.J. Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Conflicting health information is increasing in amount and visibility, as evidenced most recently by the controversy surrounding the risks and benefits of childhood vaccinations. The mechanisms through which conflicting information affects individuals are poorly understood; thus, we are unprepared to help people process conflicting information when making important health decisions. In this viewpoint article, we describe this problem, summarize insights from the existing literature on the prevalence and effects of conflicting health information, and identify important knowledge gaps. We propose a working definition of conflicting health information and describe a conceptual typology to guide future research in this area. The typology classifies conflicting information according to four fundamental dimensions: the substantive issue under conflict, the number of conflicting sources (multiplicity), the degree of evidence heterogeneity and the degree of temporal inconsistency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1173-1182
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • conflicting information
  • decision-making
  • health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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