Half of All Americans Believe in Medical Conspiracy Theories

According to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, almost half of all American adults believe in one or more conspiracy theories. Researchers at the University of Chicago collected online survey responses from more than 1,300 adults, and asked participants if they knew of and/or agreed with several common healthcare-related conspiracy theories, including whether:

  • The government restricts access to natural cures
  • There is a connection between childhood vaccines and autism
  • Intelligence agencies deliberately infected African-Americans with HIV
  • Carcinogenic elements are in cell phones
  • Corporations dump dangerous chemicals under the guise of water fluoridation

Fourty-nine percent of the respondents agreed with at least one theory, although some were better known than others. Researchers noted that belief in medical conspiracies correlates directly with how patients approach their own health and added that medical conspiracy theories are “widely known, broadly endorsed and highly predictive of many common health behaviors.” Last year, largely unvaccinated communities experienced three measles outbreaks.

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