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Memory for Flu Facts and Myths and Effects on Vaccine Intentions

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
University of Michigan Identifier:
First received: February 23, 2006
Last updated: NA
Last verified: February 2006
History: No changes posted
Objectives: To determine whether people systematically misremember the “myths” (false information) as true, and to assess effects on perceptions of risk and behavioral intentions.

Condition Intervention
Influenza Vaccines
Behavioral: Memory for truth

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Factorial Assignment
Masking: Double-Blind
Primary Purpose: Educational/Counseling/Training
Official Title: "Myths and Facts" About the Flu: Health Education Campaigns Can Reduce Vaccination Intentions

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by University of Michigan:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Memory for truth of information in a flyer.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Intention to get flu vaccine in upcoming season.

Estimated Enrollment: 175
Study Start Date: March 2005
Estimated Study Completion Date: June 2005
Detailed Description:

Public information campaigns often warn people about false and unreliable medical claims by juxtaposing “myths” and “facts.” The effectiveness of such communications has rarely been assessed. We assessed whether people systematically misremember the “myths” (false information) as true, and to assess effects on perceptions of risk and behavioral intentions.

In an experimental study, participants read either a published CDC flyer on “Facts and Myths” about the flu vaccine, or a “Facts Only” version; a separate control group read no flyer. Participants completed the outcome measures either immediately or after 30 minutes.

Primary measures were memory for information about the flu presented in the flyer, ratings of perceived risks associated with the flu, and personal intentions to get vaccinated in the upcoming season.

After a delay of 30 minutes, participants who read the “Facts and Myths” flyer systematically misremembered myths as facts. Both versions of the flyer had the immediate effect of increasing intentions to get a flu vaccine, compared to the control group. After 30 minutes, however, participants who read the “Facts and Myths” flyer reported lower intentions to get vaccinated, compared to those who read the same flyer with no delay, and compared to all participants who read the “Facts Only” flyer.

In sum, people show a bias to think that incompletely remembered information is true, turning “myths” into “facts.” Hence public information campaigns should emphasize information that is true. Repeating false information, even as a warning, can create the unintended consequence of belief in the information.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 26 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Must be able to read and write fluent English

Exclusion Criteria:

  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00296270

United States, Michigan
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States, 48109
Canada, Ontario
Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 3E6
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Michigan
Principal Investigator: Ian Skurnik, PhD Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
  More Information Identifier: NCT00296270     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: RIR13914
Study First Received: February 23, 2006
Last Updated: February 23, 2006 processed this record on May 25, 2017