Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Sherry Pagoto, PhD, Molly E. Waring, PhD, and Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, PhD

Field of Study

Health Promotion


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Background: Health misinformation is commonly shared on social media but little research has examined how misinformation is communicated and what health messages are most likely to receive misinformed responses on social media. Purpose: The purpose of this work is to explore the extent to which health misinformation was shared by participants in a private Facebook-delivered health education intervention moderated by a health counselor. Methods: We used engagement data from a randomized controlled trial of a yearlong Facebook-delivered health education intervention. We conducted a content analysis of 6,016 participant comments (including original posts and replies) to examine the nature of comments (i.e., sharing an experience, opinion, intention, and/or fact), if the comment included misinformation, and the type (i.e., narrative vs didactic) and health topic (e.g., tanning, vaccines) of intervention posts that elicited misinformation. Results: Six percent of participant comments included misinformation (n=388). Approximately a third (34.6%; n=159) of participants shared misinformation. Most participant comments that included misinformation were narrative style (n=302, 77.8%). A larger proportion of participants replies to didactic intervention posts included misinformation compared to narrative intervention posts (8.1% vs 4.1%; p (30.5%). Conclusions: While participants share misinformation in professionally-moderated Facebook groups, only a small proportion of comments include misinformation, with vaccines being a topic that accounts for the majority of misinformation. Narrative-based health messages may deter people from sharing opinions or experiences in opposition to the narrative.

Major Advisor

Sherry Pagoto, PhD