With the rise in mis- and disinformation, especially on social media, physicians and the medical community have an opportunity to provide Canadians with credible news about their health and the health system.
According to a new survey commissioned by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), 81% of people living in Canada say they trust physicians most to provide that information, followed closely by pharmacists and nurses (both 79%).
The majority of respondents (54%) value the expertise of the person sharing the health information more than where they accessed it (e.g., newspapers, TV). As a result, only about 20% of Canadians trust social media – including Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) – to share accurate health and health system information, though these platforms are trending upward as the preferred news source for young Canadians.
The Abacus/CMA survey showed that health and wellness is one of the most interesting news topics for Canadians, though most seek it out primarily for personal health concerns.
Unfortunately, the majority of English respondents (57%) reported having often come across health and health system information that they later found to be false or misleading. This experience with health misinformation was highest among Millennials (64%) and Gen Z (62%) and is consistent with an increased use of social media among these groups.
Additional findings from the Abacus/CMA survey show that:
72% of Canadians believe health-related misinformation is here to stay and is in fact getting worse;
40% say misinformation about health issues has led to mental distress or increased anxiety; and
73% believe Health Canada is most responsible for safeguarding Canadians against health misinformation.
Helping bring trusted health news to Canadians
The CMA is committed to contributing to the quality and quantity of health system news and information for all Canadians.
This includes collaborating with media on new forms of storytelling to highlight solutions to health system problems, and supporting a network of passionate medical advocates and experts who share credible health system news and information directly with Canadians.
In addition, in September 2022, the CMA partnered with The Canadian Press to strengthen health journalism in Canada – funding three new reporting positions for a period of three years.
The Abacus/CMA survey was conducted online with 2,500 Canadian adults (including an oversample of Gen Z) from Sept. 19–26, 2023, in both official languages. The margin of error is +/- 1.96%, 19 times out of 20.