9 in 10 Canadians have seen misinformation on health and health care, and most think that is here to stay.

As we continue health month, we would be remis if we didn’t explore Canadians’ relationship with health care news and media. Last fall we worked with the Canadian Medical Association on the launch of the CMA Health & Media Annual Tracking Survey to explore the health news media ecosystem in Canada. Below are some of our findings from the study.

The following data is from a survey commissioned by the CMA and conducted by Abacus in September 2023. The survey was conducted online with n=2,500 Canadians 18+ (including an oversample of Gen Z). The full report can be found here.

Health information is one of the most frequently accessed types of news in Canada. Nearly all Canadians say they see content or information about health or the health care system in Canadian news at least occasionally.

Canadians are also quite interested in consuming news about health and wellness. Aside from local news it’s one of the most sought-after topics of content when scrolling on phones or watching the news. Unlike other topics, interest in health and wellness is strong across all generations.  

Perhaps then unsurprising that so many Canadians say they frequently encounter misinformation in health news. Nearly all Canadians say they’ve seen health misinformation- with the majority saying they consume health misinformation occasionally.

And the more health information you consume, the more frequently you encounter misinformation related to health and health care news. 

Encountering misinformation isn’t avoidable- Canadians believe there is an abundance of misinformation on health and health care. In fact, three quarters of Canadians say there are equal amounts of accurate and inaccurate health-related information online. This could include inaccurate stories about health care experiences or inaccurate information about symptoms or treatments.

Based on some analyses of content online, Canadians aren’t too far off in their estimates. According to several studies, the volume of misinformation varies from 20-60% on a number of health topics.

Beyond the obvious, health and health care misinformation has several negative consequences. 4 in 10 Canadians (40%) say they’ve experienced mental distress or increased anxiety from health-related misinformation. One in three (35%) have delayed seeking appropriate medical care or treatment. Over a quarter (29%) have avoided effective treatments due to misinformation.

Given the volume and prevalence of misinformation- most Canadians feel inaccurate content about health and health care is here to stay.

In this environment, the presence of misinformation becomes a problem when Canadians are not able to determine what is true and what is false. Solving the problem requires equipping the public with skills to navigate this environment.

Most Canadians feel they are already doing a good job at navigating health related misinformation. 59% say it is easy for them to determine whether health related information is true or false, another third say it is difficult.  

Younger Canadians (Gen Z especially) who’ve spent more time online practicing their misinformation skills are the most confident in their ability to determine fact or fiction.

Continually equipping Canadians with skills to properly decipher health and health care information will be important going forward.

One thing helping Canadians navigate towards reliable information is access to the right sources. By a large margin, the biggest signal Canadians use to determine accuracy is the content’s author. This is more important than where they accessed the information, frequency of mentions, and how many views the content has, combined.  

And when it comes to which authors to trust, health care professionals (physicians especially) are the most trusted authors of accurate information related to health and the health care system, followed by those in the wider medical community, like government health and health care organizations, associations, academics, and hospitals.


Ensuring Canadians have access to content they trust will be critical to navigating an environment with a great deal of misinformation. As most predict the volume of misinformation to grow, Canadians will be looking to strengthen their access to reliable content and turning to the sources they trust to determine what information they can rely on. Building and maintaining access to some of the most trusted authors of health-related information will be an important part of the solution. We’re excited to partner with the Canadian Medical Association to work on tracking this environment year-over-year to keep a pulse on this ever-changing environment.


The survey was conducted online with 2,500 Canadians (including oversample of Gen Z) from Sept. 19-26, 2023.

  • Gen Z (18- to 26-year-olds)
    • Millennials (27- to 43-year-olds)
    • Gen X (44- to 58-year-olds)
    • Boomers (59- to 75-year-olds)

The survey was fielded in both official languages.  The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 1.96%, 19 times out of 20.

The data was weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population.

Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

For context, during the survey some major news stories were:

  • Growing tensions between Canada and India
    • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressing Canadian Parliament
    • A focus on health care during the provincial election in Manitoba
    • Lingering concerns following the e.coli outbreak in Alberta daycares


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